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Manchester United are in a pretty healthy position at the beginning of February
Crystal Palace are struggling for wins but they drew with Manchester United last month
Crystal Palace will struggle to contain Manchester United in Saturday’s contest
The odds for Manchester United vs Crystal Palace are from the DraftKings sportsbook, which is giving out a deposit bonus up to $1000.
The Red Devils are in fantastic form and should prove too strong for Crystal Palace this weekend.
Back Manchester United -1.5 in the spread betting - in effect a win for the home team by a two-goal margin or more. (+110)
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Old Trafford has become a happy place for Manchester United again. At times last season that definitely was not the case. Fans revolted against the Glazer family, whose ownership of the club has been unpopular right from the very start. On the pitch, the team was largely dismal under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
It initially looked like the current campaign would be one of transition. But after a dismal start which brought back-to-back losses to Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, United are in a promising position at the beginning of February.
Erik ten Hag’s team booked their place in the final of the EFL Cup earlier this week. They are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, unlike fellow big-six sides Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. United face Barcelona in the Europa League this month and are well positioned in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
There is still work to do, however, especially with regard to the latter objective. For all that United have been in good form of late and Tottenham Hotspur have struggled in recent months, the gap between the sides is still only three points.
Arsenal and Manchester City look set to finish in the top two, while Newcastle United are serious contenders for Champions League qualification.
Things are certainly looking up at United, but the business end of the campaign is still to come and positive runs of form in December and January will be long forgotten by the summer if the season ends in disappointment.
Nevertheless, the Old Trafford crowd is enjoying watching this side again and that represents progress from last term. United have won 12 games in a row in front of their own supporters, so this could be a difficult 90 minutes for Crystal Palace.
These sides faced each other only a few weeks ago. Manchester United took the lead through Bruno Fernandes shortly before half-time and then proceeded to control the game until the closing stages of the second half.
However, a failure to score a second goal ultimately proved costly for United. Palace put them under pressure in the final 15 minutes or so, culminating in Michael Olise’s stunning free-kick equalizer in stoppage time. It was a case of two points needlessly dropped for Ten Hag’s side.
Palace huffed and puffed throughout the game, and Patrick Vieira was no doubt pleased with the way his team fought until the final whistle. Those battling qualities were on display again a few days later, as Palace held Newcastle to a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park
The problem for the Eagles is a lack of creativity. They have now gone seven Premier League games without scoring a goal from open play. That is a little puzzling given the abundance of flair players in Vieira’s squad: Olise, Ebere Eze and Wilfried Zaha are all technical, skillful forwards.
That lack of creativity is a shortcoming Palace need to address if they are to secure a top-half finish. Only Bournemouth rank lower in the expected goals table, a measure of chance quality.
Another issue is at center-forward, where Vieira’s tendency to chop and change between Zaha, Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta demonstrates he is not convinced by any of those players in that role. Palace have been reasonably solid defensively this season, but there is room for improvement going forward.
Manchester United have made Old Trafford a fortress again. Winning 12 home matches in a row is a fantastic record for any team, and while it is true that some of those games have come against lower-league teams in cup competitions, United have also beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City on home turf this term.
Palace will have to make do without Zaha, who is not fit to face his former club after sustaining a hamstring injury in the aforementioned draw with Newcastle. His absence is a blow to Vieira, whose side are even less likely to score goals without their talisman and top scorer.
Palace will focus on keeping things tight at the back and frustrating their opponents, but United have become much better at breaking down deep defenses since Ten Hag took the reins.
Eight of their last nine wins at Old Trafford have been by a two-goal margin or more - and that looks to be the best bet for Saturday’s fixture. Palace will struggle to contain United, who can make it 13 victories on the bounce at Old Trafford in a rather comfortable fashion.
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Teams: Manchester United vs Crystal Palace
Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Date and Time: Saturday, 4 February 2023, 10.00 AM EST
How to Watch: Peacock Premium
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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