After both suffered Capital One Cup exits in midweek, Crystal Palace and Manchester United will meet at Selhurst Park on Saturday aiming to get back on track in the Premier League. United, who lost to Middlesbrough in a penalty shootout in England’s second cup competition, sit fourth in the Premier League table after a goalless draw in last week’s clash with rivals Manchester City. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace’s fine start to the season has suffered a setback in recent weeks having followed up back-to-back league defeats with a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City in the Capital One Cup.
Here are the matchups which could decide Saturday’s contest.
Wilfried Zaha vs. Marcos Rojo
Big things were expected of Wilfried Zaha when he became Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing in early 2013, after Manchester United reportedly fought off a host of top clubs to secure his signature from Crystal Palace. But under David Moyes, Zaha never got a look in and was soon sent off on loan spells to Cardiff City and Palace, before completing his return to Selhurst Park on a permanent deal earlier this year. The winger has again showed flashes of his rare ability to beat defenders one-on-one, although manager Alan Pardew will be eager to see more consistency and end product. Saturday would be a good place to show just that, especially against a United team that showed they can be vulnerable to speed down the sides of their defense against Arsenal. Marcos Rojo, though, may have something to say about that after putting in a fine performance to nullify the threat of Kevin de Bruyne in last week’s Manchester derby.
Scott Dann vs. Wayne Rooney
Louis van Gaal may be “sick” of talking about Wayne Rooney, but as long as the club’s captain continues to be picked while adding nothing to the team, he will to be the subject of much debate. Van Gaal appears desperate to try and find a role that can maximize Rooney’s contribution, but it has been to the detriment of the team, especially since shifting United’s current most dangerous attacking player, Anthony Martial, out to the left. On Saturday, Rooney will face one of the Premier League’s more reliable center-backs in Scott Dann, who has been a major part of Crystal Palace’s upward rise since joining the club 18 months ago. And after being a part of the side that shipped five goals to Manchester City on Wednesday, he will be keen to make amends.
Yohan Cabaye vs. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The fitness of Yohan Cabaye may well be crucial to Crystal Palace’s chances of getting a first ever Premier League victory against Manchester United. The former Newcastle United midfielder has been a key figure since Palace pulled off a real coup by landing him from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. Indeed he has scored three of the team’s last four goals, all of them penalties. But the France international is a major injury doubt for Saturday. If he does take the field, he will come up against another fine midfield orchestrator in Bastian Schweinsteiger. The World Cup winner hasn’t always excelled since arriving from Bayern Munich, notably in a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal earlier this month, but he is an influential and calming presence in the midfield, something United have lacked for some time.
Prediction: Neither side comes into the fixture in the best form. Palace have struggled for goals of late, and injuries to forwards Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh means that may well continue on Saturday. But United’s attack has also been floundering, with a lack of pace all too evident. An uninspiring draw may well be on the cards.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-1 Manchester United
Kickoff time: 11 a.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra