Next Saturday, 8th of November 2014, Manchester United will measure forces with Crystal Palace at the iconic Old Trafford for round eleven of the English Premier League and it is a match of the utmost importance for the Red Devils, who are currently on a three match steak without a single win.
After a disastrous last season under the command of David Moyes, United’s supporters would never have imagined that they would be going through the same order under the stewardship of one of the most influential managers of the modern game.
Louis Van Gaal’s honeymoon period with the Red Devils ended abruptly, since as soon as the new EPL season started when his team failed to overcome a Swansea side at Old Trafford. All the pre-season glamour vanished quickly and both the Red Devils and Van Gaal had a harsh reality check.
Although it is legitimate to criticized the current state of United’s team and the subsequent inconsistency of their game, it is also fair to say that no manager, not even someone as highly skilled as Van Gaal, is able to change routines and the players’ performances on the pitch in just four or five months’ work. Before the arrival of the Dutch boss, United was on a free fall and David Moyes is not the only one to blame for such a catastrophic downfall.
With a clear lack of quality players, especially in the defensive and midfield lines, Van Gaal didn’t have the players he asked for immediately at his disposal and not even the team’s recent spending spree was able to mitigate the lack of preparation that took place during the pre-season. Manchester United are currently paying for the mistakes of not having a proper scouting team and for not having someone able to adequately prepare the new season in advance.
Van Gaal has already tried several different tactical approaches so far this season but none seems to suit the current needs of the team. From an attack-driven 3-5-2 to a diamond shaped 4-4-2, the Dutch manager has already tried it all, but none of them have, at the very least, managed to fix the team’s leaky defense line.
Last weekend, the Red Devils failed once again to defeat their neighbours and rivals of Manchester City and failed anew to put up a decent overall performance. The defensive mistakes were there, as well as the lack of ideas in the midfield line, which was constantly looking for Di Maria to solve their unexplainable apathy.
The match against the shaky Crystal Palace presents a good opportunity for the Red Devils to reconcile with their supporters, but, for that match, Louis Van Gaal will not be able to rely on the contribution of Rojo, who dislocated his shoulder last weekend, and of Falcao, who remains sidelined due to injury. Chris Smalling, who was sent off against the Citizens, will also miss the match.
As for Crystal Palace, the Eagles are probably still recovering from the unexpected departure of Tony Pulis before the season’s first match.
Crystal Palace’s vessel was adrift for a while, but a moralizing win over Walsall for the Capital One Cup granted the team the motivation they needed to walk through.
Nevertheless, after a fairly positive period, last month has been quite complicated for the Eagles, who have not won any of their last four matches.
Last Monday’s night home defeat at the hands of Gus Poyet’s Sunderland, placed another rusty nail on Neil Warnock’s already heavily perforated coffin and a match against Manchester United certainly does not present the most desirable option for the team to start their recovery.
Manchester United (4-1-3-2) – De Gea – Valencia – McNair – Carrick – Shaw – Blind – Herrera – Di Maria – Fellaini – Rooney – Van Persie
Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1) – Speroni – Ward – Mariappa – Hageland – Kelly – McArthur – Puncheon – Ledley – Bolasie – Chamakh – Campbell
Regardless of United’s modest campaign, they are firm favourites to win the next Saturday’s match and given the Eagles recent displays, it is not very likely that they will be able to cause a serious upset at Old Trafford over the weekend.
This being said, the most likely outcome is a victory for Manchester United.
Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace