Manchester United-Crystal Palace Preview
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted his side did not crack under the title pressure in what has been the "strangest" campaign he can remember, as Manchester United prepare to face Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
United drew 0-0 with Chelsea on Sunday and have now won just twice in their last seven league outings, leaving them 12 points off leaders Manchester City heading into the midweek round of fixtures.
United led the way at the top of the Premier League in January, giving supporters hope of finishing top of the first time since 2012-13, but Solskjaer does not believe his players let the title talk get to them.
"Not at all. That's the Premier League. The pressure has not been there at all," he said. "Of course, we enjoyed being as close to the top as possible. That's the Premier League for you.
"That's the quality in the opposition, the quality of the tactics, the standards, the demands of the season.
"We've played I don't know how many games - we're in the Europa League, we're in the FA Cup, the Premier League and it's the strangest year of all for everyone. So, pressure? No. That's the Premier League."
United have played out goalless draws in their last two matches in all competitions, while midweek opponents Palace were involved in a stalemate with Fulham at the weekend.
The Eagles failed to register an attempt on target in the absence of star man Wilfried Zaha, who will also miss this rescheduled contest against former side United.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson is not happy with the decision to bring the game forward by a few weeks - a decision made following United's progression to the FA Cup quarter-finals - in what is already a hectic period in the calendar.
"The game being thrust upon us is something we are pretty unhappy about, especially in this current state of affairs when we do have so many of our first-team players unavailable," he said.
"I would have much preferred if this game had stayed where it was, but it is part and parcel of being in the Premier League I guess and being involved in FA Cup competitions, the powers that be feel the need to move games and sometimes it will suit a team and sometimes it won't."
Crystal Palace - Jean-Philippe Mateta
The Eagles have managed just six shots in their last two league matches and, while they have taken four points from those two games, Hodgson will be after more from his attacking players.
Mateta was an unused substitute against Fulham but is expected to return to the line-up on Wednesday, when he will be looking to add to his impressive goal in his most recent outing against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Manchester United - Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes has been directly involved in 40 goals in 40 Premier League appearances for United, but the Portuguese playmaker does not have the best of records in games played in London.
Three of the last four matches Fernandes has failed to either score or assist in a top-flight game have been in the English capital - against Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham - which he will be eager to put right.
- Palace have won two of their last three league meetings with Man United (L1), as many as they had in their previous 27 against them. The Eagles are looking to complete their first ever league double over the Red Devils.
- United have never lost in 11 Premier League away games against Palace, which is the most one side has played at another without ever losing in the competition (W8 D3).
- Solskjaer's side have won nine of their last 11 midweek Premier League fixtures (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), winning all six away games in this run.
- Only four clubs in English top-flight history have had a longer unbeaten away run than United's current run of 20 (W13 D7). The Red Devils haven't lost any of their last seven league games in London (W4 D3), last having a longer run without defeat in the capital between December 2011-December 2013 (13 games).
- United have drawn five Premier League matches goalless this season - the only seasons they have had more are 2004-05 and 2016-17 (six in each).
Updated March 2, 2021