Injury-stricken Crystal Palace continue will their tough run of fixtures when they host Manchester United on Monday night.
The Eagles are embarking on a streak of games that has already seen them play Tottenham Hotspur last weekend before they host the Red Devils, travel to Chelsea and then host Liverpool after a trip to Huddersfield Town. They dropped into the relegation zone following Swansea City’s emphatic 4-1 victory against West Ham United and risk being cut adrift with Southampton also earning a point.
The mother of all injury crises has depleted Roy Hodgson’s squad. Just 12 of their then 24-man squad were fit to play in the 1-0 defeat to Spurs last weekend but the arrival of veteran goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri on a free transfer this week has boosted the numbers, along with the expected returns of Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp.
Palace will face Jose Mourinho’s side with no fewer than ten first team absentees, including the influential Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho. It would seem a mammoth task to earn points against a Man United side showing signs of rekindling their good form having beaten Chelsea 2-1 last weekend, but the depleted Eagles were very good against an excellent Tottenham side and would have taken a point had Damien Delaney not lost track of goal-scorer Harry Kane with just two minutes of normal time left to play.
Pogba rift solved and Sanchez hoping his United career sparks into life
The reported rift between Mourinho and Paul Pogba appears to have been resolved and the Frenchman played well in the victory against Chelsea, which left them six points ahead of the Blues in the Premier League table. Pogba was pivotal in this fixture last season, scoring the first goal in the 2-1 victory, despite a hint of offside, while also setting up Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s winner.
Another key player who must hit form for United if they are to nail down second-place for the remainder of the season is Alexis Sanchez. The January signing from Arsenal has so far failed to live up to expectations early in his Old Trafford career and will hope for a repeat of his performance for Arsenal at Selhurst in December when he struck twice in a 3-2 win. United’s incentive for a victory against Palace is to move above Liverpool and behind rivals Manchester City, who currently have a 15-point lead at the top of the table.
United have six players unavailable for the game. Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini - who netted a brace in the reverse fixture - are long-term absentees, while defenders Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are also out. Ander Herrera completes the list.