Crystal Palace-Manchester United Preview

The Associated Press

No matter how well Manchester United are playing over any competition, it would not seem right unless there was some sort of controversy or dysfunction within the club.

Rest assured, that still appears to be the case as United look to rebound from their first Premier League defeat in more than a month when they host Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Manager Jose Mourinho's time at United continues to play out more like a television drama than a strong, well-oiled machine in terms of off-pitch cohesiveness. Then again, that's part of Mourinho's charm - though likely not for all his players.

The latest reports suggest Red Devils star Romelu Lukaku called out some of his teammates to stand up for themselves when coming under the wrath of Mourinho. Lukaku, meanwhile, has not been much help for United within the league, scoring just four goals - all within the first five matches of the season.

However, despite any lingering player-manager or player-player issues, Man U (6-2-4) have fared much better within the league since a 3-1 loss at West Ham on Sept. 29. The Red Devils followed with a 3-1-0 stretch that ended in competitive fashion, losing 3-1 to archrivals and first-place City in the Manchester Derby on Nov. 11.

United sit eighth in the table - seven points back of the top four - and have consecutive favorable matchups this weekend and next against Fulham.

"As soon as I recovered from the derby, I started to think about Crystal Palace," midfielder Ander Herrera told Manchester United's official website. "It's important to win at home to get confidence and to be closer to the top four."

And three of their next four matches over all competitions will be at Old Trafford.

"I think it's good to win games now," midfielder Marouane Fellaini said. "I think we have a lot of games at Old Trafford coming up so it's good to take points there and see after that. We'll take it game by game to get the points we need."

Crystal Palace (2-2-8) are in desperate need of points whilst mired in an 0-2-5 league rut since winning at Huddersfield Town way back on Sept. 15. That lack of proper progress has left the Eagles sitting 16th in table, two spots clear of the relegation zone, but one of three teams tied with eight points, including drop-zone leader Cardiff.

Despite the team's current drought, the players continue to stay in the positive - at least on the surface. A 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur prior to the recent international break should provide some confidence, perhaps of the moral variety.

"We've been here before," defender Patrick van Aanholt told Palace's official website. "But, like (I've) said, we are very good - we've just got to get the points up. As soon as we get the points up, we'll be alright."

Producing points against United would seem like a Herculean task for Palace. They've lost six in a row over all competitions in the series, and are 0-1-10 over all competitions since beating the Red Devils at Old Trafford in League Cup action in November 2011.

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