How Crystal Palace Can Redeem Themselves Against Manchester United?
Crystal Palace’s Tuesday night visit to Old Trafford failed to inspire as Roy Hodgson’s side lost 3-0 to Manchester United in the third round of this year’s Carabao Cup, but the scheduled Premier League action this weekend gives the Eagles a second opportunity to triumph on their travels to the Theatre of Dreams.
What Went Wrong On Tuesday?
Having held fellow Londoners Fulham to a goalless draw last weekend, Hodgson made eight changes to his line-up.
Despite the emphatic four-goal display against Plymouth Argyle in the previous Carabao Cup round, the manager made it clear with his team selection that his side’s competition priorities lay elsewhere.
A notable change from the start was goalkeeper Dean Henderson making his debut against the side he had left in the summer, however, with the England international going off injured after 18 minutes, the tone of the evening was seemingly set.
Manchester United utilised Erik ten Haag’s preferred 4-2-3-1 with new signings Sofyan Amrabat and Mason Mount getting a highly anticipated run out on the Old Trafford turf.
Despite initially starting at left-back, Amrabat’s inverting role provided dominance on the ball for Manchester United and ensured that Palace were always chasing the game and Mount’s creativity wreaked havoc as the home side cruised to a 2-0 scoreline before half-time.
With Amrabat moving into the midfield in the second-half, United’s dominance never wavered and Anthony Martial added a third goal just 10 minutes into the restart.
Palace’s 31% possession summed up their evening, but their performance was not completely devoid of positives.
In what looked to be a 4-4-2, Eberechi Eze’s introduction sparked life into what was a fairly dull Palace performance.
Operating in the half-spaces, Eze’s presence caused confusion for Manchester United with the opposition unsure as to who should pick him up, and as a result, Palace forged a couple of chances towards the end of the game, but the damage caused by the Red Devils was irreversible.
How Can Palace Bounce Back?
The player selection will be key on Saturday, and with many first-team regulars rested on Tuesday night, it is likely that some key names will return to the field.
Bringing back the usual centre-half pairing of Joachim Anderson and Marc Guehi will bring back a wealth of quality and assureness that any top-flight team needs if they are to get a result on the road and the possible recalls for Joel Ward and Will Hughes will give the team plenty of experience and leadership.
Palace will know from first-hand experience that playing away to Manchester United is no easy feat with the Red Devils having only lost three games at Old Trafford in all competitions since the start of last season.
Despite this, Palace have experienced recent triumphs on their travels to Manchester, claiming two consecutive Premier League away wins against United in 2019 and 2020 with current manager Roy Hodgson being the man in charge in both of those ties.
In Palace’s usual 4-2-3-1 shape, Palace can get numbers behind the ball to frustrate the home side. The defensive workload of Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew on both wings will be crucial in ensuring that the team’s defenders are not overwhelmed in wide areas and that Manchester United’s key goal threats, most notably Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, do not get adequate time and space on the ball.
Employing a low block will allow Palace to counter-attack and last season’s top goalscorer Eze will likely be at the centre of all the side’s attacking movements.
His excellent ball-carrying ability matched with his eye for a key pass or shot will be of great threat to United on Saturday and utilising the physicality of Jean-Phillipe Mateta or Odsonne Edouard by either pinning the opposition defenders or running in behind on the break could give Palace an effective outlet option and allow Eze to combine efficiently with his teammates.
Mateta’s combination play has been productive for Palace this season with the Frenchman claiming three assists already this season, more than his last three seasons combined.
A point would be no doubt valued on the road for Palace but the side certainly have the foundations to push for more.
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