David Moyes will be looking for a win to lift the pressure off his Manchester United side when the current Premier League holders travel to London to play Crystal Palace on Saturday.
United (12-6-8) have won just two of their last seven league games to slip 11 points outside of the top four in what has been an extremely disappointing debut season for the new United manager. A defeat to Stoke and draws with Fulham and Arsenal left Moyes' squad low on confidence going into an extended warm-weather training break over the last two weeks.
Despite United's struggles, this week Moyes received backing from an unexpected source - his opposing manager in Saturday's clash at Selhurst Park.
"They've got some outstanding players and I've watched the last three games on tapes and they could have won the games comfortably," said Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis. "Last year - with Sir Alex Ferguson - they did have breaks. They never played as well as they did the previous year but they had the breaks and they won the games. Unfortunately - with Dave - they haven't had the breaks, so they've not been able to pick up momentum.
"In time, David will turn it the way he wants it. The people behind the scenes will give David that time. Irrespective of what the press and the media will say, he couldn't be at a better club with better people. They've been there before, albeit 25-30 years ago, but they were in this position before."
United supporters will still be reeling from the news that veteran centre-back Nemanja Vidic will leave the club in the summer, and new Inter Milan chairman Erick Thohir was this week quoted as saying: "I can't saying anything other than the deal for Vidic is 90% done. When everything is sorted we will make an announcement."
Crystal Palace (8-2-15) go into the game against United in good form, with three wins from their last four league games, but are still just two points above the drop zone with 12 games of the campaign remaining.
Palace have injury doubts over Jerome Thomas (back), while United have concerns over the fitness of Danny Welbeck (knee), Rafael (concussion), Phil Jones (concussion), Jonny Evans (calf) and Nani (hamstring).
One more defeat for United would equal their record number of losses for a Premier League season (nine, recorded in 2004).
The Red Devils have attempted a league high 632 crosses this season, 146 more than the next highest crossing team in the Premier League.
Defence has been the key for Palace. They have conceded just 13 goals in their last 15 matches, having allowed 21 in their opening 10 games. Pulis' side have won three straight home games and five of their last seven on their own patch.
United ran out 2-0 winners when these teams met in September. Kagisho Dikgacoi was sent off late in the first half with Robin van Persie scoring the resulting penalty, and Wayne Rooney secured the win nine minutes from time. Palace did not manage a single shot on target for the whole of the 90 minutes. This will be United's first league visit to Selhurst Park since 2005.
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