(Form check: LLLLWD)
After a sticky few months which saw Alan Pardew’s managerial employment put under scrutiny, in a run of 6 defeats during October and November, Crystal Palace have shown much more in the month of December including a comfortable home win against Southampton and a dogged away draw to Hull with a late Fraizer Campbell equaliser. As with many mid table teams Palace can normally be relied on for the odd surprise result but you really do feel Palace are a momentum team, hopefully they can keep up their current positive vibe.
Watching a certain BBC one programme earlier in the season I saw Pardew talk about how he wanted to develop Crystal Palace from a counter attacking team to a more possession based passing team, certainly a factor in the poor form shown, as the likes of Zaha, Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon were not getting the opportunity to create the chances for the powerful £32 million signing Christian Benteke. The shape of the team cries out for counter attacking football and although it may not be consistent, it has suited the side well over the past few years.
Palace have scored 27 goals this season, the highest amount outside the top four, so you’d have to fancy them for a goal, especially from a set piece which counts for 33% of their strikes. On the opposite scale they’ve conceded 29 goals, the highest amount outside the bottom four, so keep those score to nil bets to a minimum. With a full team to pick from Palace fans will be hoping for the upset, trying to keep that clean sheet looks like a thankless task though.
(Form check: DWDDDW)
Is the Jose Mourinho machine starting to crank its way into full flow? After the away blitzing they suffered to Chelsea, Manchester United have secured three solid draws and a home win against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. Hardly form of a top four team but the resiliency being shown, especially in defence, shows the habitual sign of a Mourinho team, defence first, attack second.
Phil Jones has miraculously played four games in a row now after a whole host of injuries, once deemed to be the next big English hope, his progress has halted over the last few years, technically he has never been sound, but critics rather consider his lack of tactical awareness the bigger issue. He’s solid but no Rio (Ferdinand)! The rather rash Marcus Rojo has also seen more game time, he’s certainly one that can go missing in defence but you always feel there’s a little potential there if it can be unlocked. Together the defence does look more solid though, perhaps the wider ‘unit’ is working a little better.
It’ll be interesting to see if Marouane Fellaini makes the field after being booed by the support at Old Trafford in the weekend game. Mourinho may feel this represents a good opportunity for him to start with Crystal Palace’s aerial power in attack and the far fewer Red Devil fans present. Also questions may be raised around Ibrahimovic’s ability to play competitive games so close together due to his ageing legs, meaning Anthony Martial could more than likely figure prominently in the team.
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- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Crystal Palace's last 7 games (Premier League)
- Man Utd are undefeated in their last 11 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- Christian Benteke wins 9.2 aerial battles per game (Premier League)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovich has played 1260 minutes this season for Manchester United, Only beaten by David De Gea on 1350 minutes.
- Wilfried Zaha has 6 assists this season (Premier League)
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All the history points towards a Manchester United taking something back with them up north, but I’m in good form recently with my upsets and I’m suggesting we look seriously at the large odds being offered on Crystal Palace. It’ll be disappointing if both teams can’t find a way through which should set up an attacking final 30 minutes, Selhurst Park will be rocking!
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Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account