Crystal Palace-Manchester United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The pressure is building on Louis van Gaal's Manchester United ahead of their game against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday. United (3-4-3) are without a win in their last three matches, and the opening 10 games of the Van Gaal era has produced fewer points than David Moyes managed at the start of his disastrous tenure. In fact, this is the worst start to a Premier League campaign by Manchester United. Last weekend saw the Red Devils succumb 1-0 to an off-colour Manchester City in their local derby, and - even though there were positive signs for United in the second half - Van Gaal believed a rash challenge and first-half red card for central defender Chris Smalling proved to be his team's undoing. "As a player you have to control your aggression," the Dutch manager said."I didn't see the first yellow but with the second, you know you already have a yellow, so have to handle it differently. I said that to the players. "You have to deal with that. You cannot do what he has done with the second yellow card. That is not very smart." Replacing Smalling will be Van Gaal's biggest selection dilemma ahead of Saturday's game, particularly with Marcus Rojo also ruled out with a dislocated shoulder he picked up against City and both Phil Jones (calf) and Jonny Evans (ankle) unlikely to be fit in time to feature. The Republic of Ireland this week called up young prospect Paddy McNair, and the converted midfielder seems odds-on to start against Palace, with fit-again Michael Carrick the favourite to partner him at the back. Injury concerns over Radamel Falcao (calf) mean that out-of-form striker Robin van Persie is likely to keep his place, while Marouane Fellaini will be hopeful of another starting spot in midfield after impressing in recent weeks. Saturday's visitors Crystal Palace (2-3-5) are without a win in four league matches and have free fallen down the table after an encouraging spell in September. However, manager Neil Warnock was not his usual robust self in his pre-match press conference, blaming an FA fine for comments about officials for his new subdued approach. "I'm going to be boring from now on and give you guys nothing to write about," Warnock said. "I know journalists appreciate my comments but they're not the ones who pay the fines. I have to watch what I say. "Regarding what I said, I could have changed maybe two or three words and I wouldn't have got charged," Warnock added, referring to his comments after a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in October. "My wife saw Garry Monk's interview and said 'don't you ever do anything like that' and I told her he didn't get charged but I've been charged for mine." Palace are likely to be without Damien Delaney due to illness. United won 2-0 in both meetings with Palace last season, and have never lost to the London club in 10 Premier League clashes. The Manchester club have won those 10 games by an aggregate score of 21-3, keeping eight clean sheets, and have posted four shutouts in the five victories at Old Trafford.