Manchester United are odds-on favourites to make it two wins from two when they travel to south London to take on Crystal Palace on Wednesday night (8pm on BT Sport 1).
Jose Mourinho’s team emerged victorious from their crunch clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s (pictured) first-half strike ultimately making the difference at Old Trafford.
It was a deserved triumph for the Red Devils, who created the better goalscoring opportunities throughout and conceded very few clear-cut chances at the other end of the field. Mkhitaryan was the star of the show, providing a fine blend of creativity and dynamism on the right-hand side of a line of three behind lone central striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia were also excellent in the back four.
Man Utd’s displays have generally been better than their results would suggest so far this term. The gap currently separating them from the Champions League qualification places stands at six points, and Mourinho will probably be confident of climbing into the top four if his side continue to perform in the manner that they have in recent weeks.
Crystal Palace were involved in yet another entertaining and high-scoring game away from home at the weekend, drawing 3-3 with Hull City at the KCOM Stadium. The second strike was a stunning individual effort from Wilfried Zaha, who has been sublime so far this season. The Eagles surrendered a 2-1 lead and trailed 3-2 heading into the final few minutes of the encounter, before Frazier Campbell rescued a point for the visitors with a late header against his former club.
Palace remain excellent going forward. Only Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal have found the back of the net more often than the Eagles, but they have been undermined by defensive shakiness time and time again. They boast just a single clean sheet since the Premier League campaign got underway in August.
Valencia (suspension), Mkhitaryan (ankle) and Chris Smalling (toe) are all missing for Man Utd, but Eric Bailly could replace Marcos Rojo in the heart of the backline. Marcus Rashford may come in for Mkhitaryan further forward, with Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba set to continue through the centre of the pitch.
Mourinho has criticised Luke Shaw at times this year but the England international could be recalled to try and contain ex-United winger Zaha, particularly as Matteo Darmian was given the runaround by Moussa Sissoko in the second half on Sunday.
Crystal Palace will be hoping to have James Tomkins available for selection once again after the former West Ham United defender missed the weekend’s draw with a knock. Bakary Sako (muscle), Jason Puncheon (suspension), Connor Wickham (knee), Loic Remy (calf), Steve Mandanda (knee), Pape Souare (broken leg) and Jonathan Benteke (knee) will all definitely miss out.
Andros Townsend will probably keep his place despite some below-par showings in recent weeks, while Yohan Cabaye looks set to return to the starting XI in Puncheon’s absence. Pardew switched to a 3-5-2 formation in the second half on Saturday but is likely to revert back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 this time around.
Man Utd can come out on top at Selhurst Park. Mourinho’s side seem to have rediscovered their rhythm in the last few weeks and should have little trouble causing problems for a porous defensive unit, which should ultimately be enough to bring them all three points.
We fancy a United victory with over 2.5 goals to be netted in total and Christian Benteke to score at any time, despite the fact he is likely to be on the losing side.