Crystal Palace’s search for a first Premier League point of the campaign – and a first goal – will continue Saturday afternoon when they face a daunting Manchester United side at Old Trafford.
Palace’s season has got off to the worst possible start after six straight defeats, failing to find the back of the net in 540 minutes of football, and they’ve recorded the worst start in top-flight history.
If they are going to turn their fortunes around then Roy Hodgson’s side will have to manage something they’ve never done and record a first Premier League win against United at the 17th attempt.
Manchester United and Crystal Palace couldn’t be going into Saturday’s encounter with more contrasting fortunes so far in the Premier League, with the hosts sitting pretty right up at the top.
Jose Mourinho’s side have been largely unstoppable, recording five victories in six matches and keeping clean sheets in all of those, with a draw away at Stoke City the only blot on the copybook.
Whilst their victory away at Southampton showed they have a dogged side, they returned to full expansive form in the Champions League on Wednesday as they swatted CSKA Moscow away 4-1.
It couldn’t be more of a different story for the visitors, with Palace falling to defeats against Huddersfield, Swansea City, Liverpool and Burnley – losses that signalled the end of Frank de Boer.
Roy Hodgson hasn’t fared much better since arriving, facing back-to-back league losses against Southampton and Manchester City, and he’ll be desperate for some sort of response on Saturday.
For the hosts, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick are set to miss out through respective injury issues although Saturday’s clash could see the return of Marouane Fellaini after missing the CSKA victory.
Phil Jones is also a doubt but the good news is that Anthony Martial is expected to be fit enough to feature after limping off in the 4-1 win in Russia – although Marcus Rashford is a more likely starter.
Crystal Palace will be wondering when their luck will turnaround after more misery was heaped on them during the week, with Christian Benteke ruled out for up to six weeks after picking up ligament damage.
This leaves boss Roy Hodgson with a striking crisis ahead of the trip to Old Trafford, with the Belgian the only recognised forward in the ranks, and it means that Bakary Sako is likely to form a make-shift option.
Match Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace
Things certainly don’t get any easier for Crystal Palace and, after being swept aside by Manchester City’s second-half display last week, they face a United side that have been equally rampant so far this season.
Mourinho’s side will be brimming with confidence after their convincing midweek victory over in Russia and they’ll want to put pressure on their neighbours ahead of their evening tie with Chelsea.
Palace will go into the game with nothing to lose, and with no sense of expectancy weighing on their shoulders, and they could cause a few problems – but the hosts have too much fire-power not to win.