Crystal Palace v Man Utd preview: Eagles have made big strides since Old Trafford rout, says Roy Hodgson
Last Updated: 05/03/18 8:34pm
Crystal Palace host Manchester United on Monday Night Football with Roy Hodgson urging his team to take encouragement from the vast improvements they have made since the two sides' past meeting.
Less than three weeks after Hodgson's appointment as manager, Palace lost 4-0 at Old Trafford to leave them with seven defeats from seven Premier League fixtures having not scored a goal.
Palace unexpectedly beat defending champions Chelsea in their next game to record their first points and gradually climbed clear of the bottom three before a succession of injuries again undermined them.
Goal difference alone is keeping Hodgson's team out of the relegation zone, but he has succeeded in giving Palace an identity and confidence and has organised a shaky defence.
The 12 injuries they had before last week's 1-0 defeat by Tottenham mostly affected his back four, but Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp have since returned to fitness and despite their many absentees, the 70-year-old manager remains upbeat.
"I certainly didn't know that we could recover from seven matches with no points and no goals and eight points from being out of the bottom three," he said.
"That we would rally round to get two or three points clear a few weeks ago. I couldn't have predicted that, and the players have made big strides forward in becoming a better team and harder to beat.
"I am certain we can give a better account of ourselves than we did at Old Trafford."
While the on-loan Timothy Fosu-Mensah is ineligible against his parent club, Palace's options have been further strengthened by the arrival of Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, previously a free agent, on a short-term contract until the season's end.
The 35-year-old had been on trial, having also worked with Hodgson at Liverpool, and is expected to be named a substitute with Julian Speroni still injured.
"I am very happy to be here and have been training with the guys for some time now," he said.
"The atmosphere in the dressing room has been really good and they have received me very well so we can talk a lot and get to know everyone. I am very happy with this opportunity."
As for the visitors, midfielder Scott McTominay, 21, is hoping to make his fourth straight start for United at Palace, with his solid displays attracting admiring glances from England and Scotland.
"My advice to him is not about national teams, it is not about that," said United manager Jose Mourinho.
"My advice to him is to stay the way he is: very humble, very open to learn, intelligent, and to keep going in the same direction, same profile, trying to fight to have minutes with Manchester United, which is not easy.
"And then the national team will be just a consequence of his work at the club, but I can't confirm at all that both national teams have contacted him because I don't know."
Crystal Palace's injury crisis will be eased by the returns of Kelly and Schlupp in time for Monday's visit United.
The Eagles also signed Cavalieri on a free transfer on Friday to boost numbers, but the on-loan Fosu-Mensah is ineligible against his parent club.
Yohan Cabaye, Speroni, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Jason Puncheon, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Wilfried Zaha, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham are all expected to be absent.
Meanwhile, Mourinho is not going to rush back Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite the United manager expecting this to be the striker's last season at the club.
The veteran Swede is back in training after a knee issue, but Mourinho will not utilise him at Crystal Palace on Monday unless the player is convinced of his fitness.
Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Phil Jones have missed recent matches with injuries of their own, while midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera remain absent. Sergio Romero was missing from the squad against Chelsea.
Palace haven't won any of their 17 Premier League meetings with Manchester United - the most a team has played another without a single victory in the competition (D3 L14).
Indeed, United are unbeaten in 19 top-flight games against Crystal Palace (W16 D3 L0), since a 0-3 loss at Selhurst Park in May 1991 courtesy of goals from Ian Wright and John Salako (2).
Palace have only scored in four of their 17 Premier League games against Man Utd, netting just five goals in total.
This is Palace's first Premier League game on a Monday since beating Arsenal 3-0 in April last season - they've got a better win rate on this day of the week than they have any other in the Premier League (35% - won 8/23).
Palace have lost all eight of their Premier League games this season that have not featured Wilfried Zaha, scoring just once and conceding 18 in these games.
United haven't lost three consecutive Premier League away games since January 1996, while Jose Mourinho has only lost three straight away league games once in his managerial career (August 2006 with Chelsea).
If the game goes as I expect at the Eithad Stadium then Manchester United won't really be under too much pressure. However, if they can win at Selhurst Park and Chelsea lose then I think they can pretty much guarantee a top four finish. They'll be nine points clear of Chelsea and for me, that's that with nine games to play.
I expect United to be extremely efficient and can see them edging a tight game to cement a top four finish.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)