Crystal Palace face another tricky game at Selhurst Park as they look to avoid a fourth home Premier League defeat of the season, with Manchester United providing their latest opposition.
The Eagles remain in a reasonable position, but a tough run of matches and some narrow defeats of late have seen them fall slightly adrift of the top five. There was very little between the sides when they met high-flying Leicester last time out, but the match was settled against them when a slip from the usually reliable Brede Hangeland was punished, as three late – and rather fanciful – penalty appeals were waved away as they left the East Midlands frustrated.
As ever against United from now on, Wilfried Zaha will feel that he has a point to prove to his former employers, who gave him very few opportunities to impress during his time at Old Trafford. And he enters the game in good form, looking tricky alongside Yannick Bolasie, whose pace has the potential to give the away defence all manner of problems. At the back, Martin Kelly will be called upon to deal with the mazy dribbling of youngster Anthony Martial.
The former Monaco star was often the most likely player to lift the Manchester derby stupor, but he was unable to make a telling contribution in a game where both sides were intent on avoiding defeat. Their most impressive performer was in defence, as Marcos Rojo did a superb job on dangerman Kevin de Bruyne, and here he will be needed again to deal with the threat of Palace’s lightning quick wingers, albeit in what is set to be a more open encounter.
That is likely to mean that the midfield battle will be key in deciding the outcome, and that these sides play the same formation will certainly make things more intriguing. Palace will be the more physical thanks to the presence of Mile Jedinak and Joe Ledley, but visiting boss Louis van Gaal overcame a similar challenge at Everton in his last away match so will be confident of pulling off another impressive victory here.
The hosts are unable to call upon forwards Marouane Chamakh and Connor Wickham, while they have doubts over Yohan Cabaye, Pape Souare and Joel Ward.
Man Utd also have several injury worries, with Memphis Depay, Antonio Valencia, Paddy McNair, Luke Shaw and James Wilson all sidelined.
Last Meeting: Man Utd all but ensured qualification for the Champions League with a hard-earned 2-1 victory at Palace back in May. They took the lead through Juan Mata’s penalty after Scott Dann was penalised for handball, but Jason Puncheon levelled on 57 minutes when his free-kick was deflected in. But it was Marouane Fellaini who was in the right place to head the winner as the hosts failed to deal with a deep cross.