Manchester United will go in search of their 10th consecutive victory in all competitions when they meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in Wednesday’s Premier League fixture.
The Red Devils overcame bitter rivals Manchester City 2-1 in Saturday’s derby, while Patrick Vieira’s side fell short in their local clash with London counterparts Chelsea, losing 1-0.
It was not for the want of trying, as Crystal Palace forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into several saves and worked Thiago Silva’s 38-year-old legs to the extreme, but the efforts of the Eagles counted for nought as Chelsea just edged Sunday’s London derby.
Kai Havertz headed home the only goal of the game with 64 minutes gone, which condemned Crystal Palace to a miserable third successive loss in all competitions, having seen their brief FA Cup run come to an end at the hands of Southampton last week.
There was much to like about this Palace side under Vieira during the autumn period, but as the weather has got colder, results have proven harder to come by for the Eagles, who sit 12th in the table and six points off the top half, albeit with a game in hand on Chelsea.
While admitting that his side’s performance left him frustrated, Vieira had a few gripes with referee Peter Bankes at Stamford Bridge, but officiating annoyances must now take a backseat as the Eagles boss aims to pick up just Palace’s second win from their last six Premier League contests.
Four of the Eagles’ last five in the top flight have ended in defeat – failing to find the back of the net in all of those losses and only beating Bournemouth in that time – but not since September 2017 have the hosts lost three in a row at Selhurst Park without scoring once.
The latest bizarre interpretation of the offside rule came to the fore in Saturday’s Manchester derby, where Jack Grealish headed Man City into the lead before Bruno Fernandes controversially levelled after Marcus Rashford was deemed not to have been interfering with play.
The England international then scored a perfectly good goal in the dying embers to turn the Old Trafford clash on its head and seal a ninth successive victory in all tournaments for Man United, whose fans may allow themselves to dream of Premier League title glory after closing the gap on the reigning champions.
Ten Hag’s men dropped down to fourth in the rankings on Sunday after Newcastle United – who are only ahead on goal difference – left it late to beat Fulham, but Man City are only a point clear of their rivals, and a nine-point gap to leaders Arsenal is by no means insurmountable.
Of course, the Gunners could potentially increase their lead over Man United to double figures when the Red Devils visit the Emirates at the weekend, but victory on Wednesday would be enough to lift Ten Hag’s side into second for the time being.
Not since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2009 have Man United won 10 games in a row in all tournaments, but Ten Hag watched on from the stands with a glum expression as Palace beat the Red Devils 1-0 at Selhurst Park in the final weekend last season, and the hosts have only lost twice in their last six showdowns with their esteemed visitors.
Injury was added to insult for Palace in their defeat to Chelsea, as ever-present centre-back Joachim Andersen came off with a calf problem in the first half, although Vieira is not sure of the severity of the Dane’s issue just yet.
Anderson joins long-term absentees James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson in the infirmary, but Vieira has no other concerns to work around for Wednesday, where Wilfried Zaha will line up from the off against his former employers.
Zaha has already scored three Premier League goals against Man United and could set a new record for players to have previously played for the 20-time English champions with a fourth, while Andersen’s place in the backline should be filled by James Tomkins.
Man United did not come out of their clash with Man City unscathed either, as Anthony Martial had to come off at half time with an unspecified issue, while Marcus Rashford took a whack to the hip but managed to carry on until stoppage time.
Donny van de Beek, Axel Tuanzebe and Jadon Sancho remain out of contention for the visitors, who are also unlikely to have Diogo Dalot back from a hamstring injury just yet, meaning that a start for ex-Eagles right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be in order.
Antony can expect a recall to the frontline if Martial’s latest problem renders him unavailable, while Lisandro Martinez was again restricted to a substitute outing in the derby as he builds up his fitness following the World Cup, but the Argentine ought to come into contention for a start here.
Burnley loanee Wout Weghorst should also come into contention for his full debut with Martial a doubt, but the Dutchman will likely be named on the bench here.
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Tomkins, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Doucoure, Eze; Olise, Mateta, Zaha
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Fred, Casemiro; Antony, Eriksen, Fernandes; Rashford