Manchester Utd vs Crystal Palace preview: Eagles yearn to extend impressive Old Trafford record
(Photo by Michael Regan - Getty Images)

Old Trafford has become almost like a second home for Crystal Palace in the last few seasons. The Eagles are unbeaten in their last three trips, securing victory in their last two visits - including a 3-1 triumph courtesy of two Wilfried Zaha goals last season.

Circumstances have changed a lot this time around, though. 

With two new managers in the frame, Patrick Vieira will be keen to build on the successes that Roy Hodgson derived in Manchester, while Ralf Rangnick will look to start his Premier League managerial tenure with a win. 

The feeling coming into the game is that Manchester United have the upper hand. Since the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick has led the Red Devils to three unbeaten games, and the fear now from Palace is that the new manager bounce is heading their way.

Although in transition, United look on course for a positive winter period. In their last game, Cristiano Ronaldo helped himself to two goals to subdue fourth-placed Arsenal.

United are playing with a renewed confidence, a belief in their ability, and players that were devoid of such spirit have been reborn in recent weeks. Energy and intensity have been reinstated under Carrick's guidance, it is now over to Rangnick to continue the trend. 

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In the red and blue corner, things aren't as straightforward. The Eagles have suffered two consecutive defeats in the Premier League, with the latest coming in agonising fashion.

A 93rd-minute penalty from Raphinha saw Leeds United snatch all three points at Elland Road in midweek. Patrick Vieira's men differ from their opposition on Sunday in the sense that they have lost confidence in recent weeks.

But with the trip to Old Trafford being their third fixture in eight days, there is no time to reflect, but an opportunity to right their wrongs.

Crystal Palace will need to see more composure in front of goal if they are to dent their opponents growing positivity. Scoring just one goal in their last two games, Vieira will look to Wilfried Zaha and his supporting cast to conjure that special something they have lacked.

  • Tactical overview

After Tuesday's defeat, Vieira highlighted that offence was the main area of much-needed improvement for his side. “We should create more chances and we didn’t make the right decisions,” he said.

“We just have to analyse how we created chances and how we can improve our last pass in the final 30 yards.”

The key to Palace's successes will be how the coaching team alleviate the gaps that injuries to James McArthur and Joachim Andersen have left. The Eagles have struggled to progress the ball in their last two games, so it will be interesting to see who forms the midfield outlay at Old Trafford.

While Luka Milivojevic failed to replicate McArthur's hard work and tenacity against Villa, Jeffrey Schlupp showed glimmers of being an ideal deputy to the Scotsman.

However, WIll Hughes still hasn't made a start for Palace, so it could be he who could be preferred to reinvigorate the South Londoners creativity in transition. Elsewhere, Michael Olise and Odsonne Edouard will hope to put their mediocre displays behind them and provide the Eagles with a cutting edge at Old Trafford.

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As for the Old Trafford crowd, they will be welcoming to the high press and exuberance that their new German coach is notorious for. A flexible front three is expected, with Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes being key to their fluidity on the weekend.

Additionally, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford could also play starring roles in a system that may look to expose the lack of pace on Palace's right side, with Joel Ward and James Tomkins taking up them positions.

As a new manager comes to town, there will always be anticipation over the first lineup they name. The roles of Donny Van De Beek, Fred and Matic will also be closely analysed when Rangnick steps into Old Trafford as interim manager for the first time on Sunday. 

  • Team news

As aforementioned, Crystal Palace will be without Joachim Andersen and James McArthur against United, with the latter of the two expected to be out until the new year.

Nathan Ferguson is still a game or so away from travelling with the squad, while Eberechi Eze is likely to travel, but the amount of involvement he will have is still yet to be decided. 

Furthermore, after Edouard failed to reignite the Eagles' imagination in the final third at Elland Road, a return for Christian Benteke could be on the cards. And it would not be surprising to see Jordan Ayew start again after his ingenuity on Tuesday was one of the promising talking points of the defeat.

On the other side of the pitch, Raphael Varane is expected to remain reduced to the sidelines. Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani were not deemed fit against Arsenal either, so question marks over them are still present. 

  • How to watch

The match is scheduled for kickoff at 14:00 GMT on Sunday 5th December at Old Trafford, but no channels are broadcasting it for TV viewing.

If you are looking for live updates and analysis throughout, VAVEL UK is your best bet. 

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