Never have Manchester United fans been so satisfied with a derby day defeat. Following Sunday’s spirited, yet still very painful loss at the hands of our noisy, but also quite frankly confidence strapped neighbours the mood was relatively upbeat amongst Manchester United supporters. A team brimming with world-class talent sits in 10th position, following the worst start to a season in 25 years, but nobody really seems too fussed.
The feeling of a ‘crisis’ or ‘meltdown’ is very much absent from the mind of your every day Manchester United supporter, which is seemingly bizarre but also unbelievably encouraging. It’s easy to spot why this is the case; unlike last year, there seems to be a plan, a purpose. This team looks galvanized and dangerous. With each game positive aspects are noted, admittedly alongside negative ones as well. But despite the fact that the teams’ backline ended up consisting of two nineteen year olds, a central midfielder and a right midfielder on Sunday, Louis van Gaal’s team is fun to watch.
With that considered, entertainment may need to be brushed aside against Crystal Palace in order to attain another 3 points at home. With limited options at the back for this weekends encounter, a nervy ending at home to a far inferior team is very much on the cards. Contrastingly, Crystal Palace could be overwhelmed by the speed of a Manchester United attack that is gaining chemistry and momentum. Form at Old Trafford this season has been impressive; with the last home defeat coming at Old Trafford all the way back on the opening day of the season.
The latter appears even more likely when one considers Palace’s record at Old Trafford, their last win at the Theatre of Dreams came in the form of a 1-2 win back in December 1989.
The visitors sit in 17th position in the league table after being unable to win any of their last 4 games. Their away form is hardly impressive either; 5 points have been picked up on the road so far this season. On top of that, their talismanic captain Mila Jedinak, who has played every game for Palace since their promotion in 2013, misses out through suspension. Other absentees include Delaney and O’Keefe, as well as Wilfried Zaha, who is unable to play due to obvious reasons.
Louis van Gaal confirmed in today’s press conference that he would not be able to select a senior central defender for the clash with Crystal Palace. Jones and Evans are characteristically injured; Rojo faces a lengthy period on the sidelines following a shoulder injury but won’t require surgery and should return before the turn of the year. Falcao is still unavailable for selection, as is Chris Smalling. The less said about him the better.
Manchester United’s current defensive predicament may result in two academy products being used at the heart of defence for this Saturday game; Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair have equally impressed this season and look set to receive their chance to stake a claim for a regular starting spot alongside defenders who are either bloody mental, or just happen to be made of glass.
Expect a few uncomfortable moments for this game. An ever-changing back line is seldom conducive to solidarity and equilibrium, but given Manchester United’s growing confidence and attacking efficiency one would expect a home win.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace