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Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United

Feb 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

RooneyMoyes Reuters
  • Manchester United have just one point in their last three away matches
  • The Red Devils are eight points back of European qualification and 11 back of the top four
  • Crystal Palace has allowed 34 goals this season, third best in the bottom half

Two teams in desperate need of a win come into Selhurst Park looking to duel it out for three points at 12:30pm ET on NBC, or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Manchester United have just four points in their last five matches, and if they wish to keep their slim Champions League hopes alive, they must return home with the spoils against a Crystal Palace squad that’s troubled top teams in the past.

The Red Devils recently learned that Wayne Rooney has signed a five-and-a-half year contract extension, and he will once again be vital for the visitors to remain in the hunt for the top four.

Another man of importance for Manchester United will be Robin van Persie, who has been touch-and-go since his return from injury four matches ago. He has three goals since, but has also drifted in and out of the matches, registered some poor misses, and has failed to have a late impact in most of them.

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Tony Pulis has Crystal Palace riding high, up out of the relegation zone and into temporary safety. Their stout defense has allowed just nine goals in their last 10 matches, and United should find it difficult to get through fully-fit squad.

However, it’s of vital importance that the hosts kick United while they’re down, or else they risk falling back into the relegation zone. They sit just two points above the drop despite their recent run, and have one of the Premier League’s most difficult schedules down the season’s stretch run, with much of it on the road.

What they’re saying

Tony Pulis on Manchester United’s season: “They just haven’t had the breaks, that momentum to take them forward. Last year under Sir Alex they didn’t play as well as the year before, but they got the breaks. This year they’ve not been able to pick up any momentum. But they have wonderful players and are a wonderful football club and we will be proud to host them.”

Crystal Palace’s Joe Ledley on facing Manchester United: “We are looking forward to playing against the likes of Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and van Persie. We know it’s going to be a very difficult game but we look forward to it.”

David Moyes on United’s 2-0 win in the reverse fixture: “We could have done with scoring more goals, but I thought we were dominant from the first whistle. I don’t think the result was ever in doubt.”

Prediction

With Manchester United struggling, and Crystal Palace flying high, it’s quite possible that the home side takes something from this match. United have plenty of disappointing matches in their recent results.

However, with the boost of Wayne Rooney’s new deal and a fully fit attack, Manchester United pulls out the win and pegs back Crystal Palace’s attempts to avoid the drop with a 2-1 win for the visitors.

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