Crystal Palace: We Need To Beware The Wounded Animal, Man United
1. BEWARE THE WOUNDED ANIMAL (told you)
Man United have endured a difficult season by the ridiculously high standards and ludicrous expectations established during Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering reign. David Moyes’ handling of the highly poisoned chalice has not led to a smooth transition and so far off the pace are they that it will be a struggle to reach fourth whilst the title is long gone. But before Palace fans get ahead of themselves this is a team with Van Persie and Rooney mixed in with the latest addition to Old Trafford, Juan Mata. There are renowned internationals in every position and one day they are going to click, so we must fervently hope that this Saturday is not the time.
2. MIND THE GAP
Because of the congested nature of the bottom half of the Premier League where a win can jettison a club to 11th or alternatively a loss can drop the same team into the dreaded bottom three. Indeed it is so tight that a single point gained can either be a godsend or a death warrant. Having built up some impetus at home with three wins on the trot, a point or three against United would make it five games unbeaten this year. Such home comforts could be the difference between success and failure at the end of the season.
3. PRESSING AND PRESSURE
Having warned against complacency and under-estimating United, it should be said that there is nothing to fear (apart from maybe fear itself) and the players need to be up and at them from the off. If we can unsettle them early and keep the pressure up for the whole match then we just might get some reward. The midfield, led by Jedinak (who leads the Premier League for interceptions with 87 according to Opta), will have to impose their will on Carrick and his cohorts by hassling and harrying them to distraction. United will almost certainly have long spells of possession and it is imperative that the whole team maintain their concentration and restrict the likes of Van Persie and Rooney to slender pickings.
4. THE SHOCK OF THE NEW
It would be too much to ask for the new boys to repeat their dream debuts against West Brom when both Ince and Ledley scored. Ince’s role breaking forward into the ‘hole’ behind the striker will be vital as we seek to expose any fault lines between their midfield and back four. Ledley’s experience from his European games with Celtic will stand him in good stead to steady the good ship Palace when we are under the cosh. Scott Dann will need to be at his best to prove he is a better option than the unluckily discarded Gabbidon.
5. THE SHOCK OF THE OLD
It is fair to say that there is a bit of history between Palace and United. 1990 - FA Cup that proved to be Ferguson’s first in a long line of trophies; 1995 - Cantona’s infamous kung fu kick and the death of Paul Nixon a Palace fan at the FA Cup semi-final. This season we had Ashley Young’s audition for Splash1 as he dived his way into most people’s bad books during the league clash at Old Trafford. Suffice to say there is a fair bit of needle between the two sets of fans and the hope is that late Saturday afternoon Selhurst Park will be rocking, raucous and as intimidating as it has ever been.
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