Man United in Palace coup to rescue season

LONDON • Manchester United and Crystal Palace face a possible dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final when they meet in the Premier League at Old Trafford today.

The two sides have avoided each other in the semi-final draw with United facing Everton and Palace playing Watford in the last-four ties at Wembley this weekend.

Victory in the Premier League fixture may therefore come as a psychological bonus ahead of a potential Cup final reunion on May 21.

It is inevitable both sides will have their thoughts on the Cup.

Palace have never done better than a place in the final in 1990 - when they lost to United - and the Red Devils have not won the competition since 2004.

But United are desperate for a league win to finish in the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League. They are four points behind both Manchester City and Arsenal in the race for fourth spot with five games to go and time running out.

"We want to be lifting this historic trophy. In this complex season we have managed to advance in the FA Cup and now we are very excited," United midfielder Juan Mata said.

"However, before Everton and the FA Cup we have to focus on the Premier League game against Crystal Palace. Our goal is to play in the Champions League the next season and all we think about right now is to win every single game."

United, who unconvincingly beat relegated Villa 1-0 last Saturday, could have midfielders Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera back as Louis van Gaal balances his resources ahead of the Cup semi-final.

Palace have not won a league match at Old Trafford since 1989 but can look forward to today's fixture with growing confidence after a 1-1 draw at Arsenal extended their current unbeaten run to four games.

"I want us to finish mid-table," Palace manager Alan Pardew told a press conference yesterday.

"It's been a long time since we've had momentum and we've got it. I think that's more important than a rest."

Pardew confirmed that defenders Scott Dann, who suffered a foot injury against the Gunners, and Joel Ward, as well as midfielder Joe Ledley will miss the United game.

Midfielder James McArthur is back in contention following an ankle injury.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAN UNITED V CRYSTAL PALACE
Singtel TV Ch103 & StarHub Ch228, tomorrow, 2.50am.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Man United in Palace coup to rescue season'. Print Edition | Subscribe