Just one point separates the sides before they do battle at Old Trafford for the second time in five days. We look ahead to the game with our data-powered Manchester United vs Crystal Palace prediction and preview.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: The Quick Hits
- Manchester United (51.3%) are backed to defeat Crystal Palace (21.3%) by the Opta supercomputer.
- The season projections are less kind to the hosts, with their top-four chances down at 11.0%.
- Bruno Fernandes is in fine form for Man Utd and scored in both games against Palace last season.
Manchester United will take on Crystal Palace for the second time in the space of five days at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Erik ten Hag eyeing another victory that can boost his side’s attempts to emerge from a painful start.
A battling away victory over Burnley in the Premier League eased the immediate pressure on Man Utd manager Ten Hag before the first of two clashes with Palace on Tuesday.
And the holders won that EFL Cup contest 3-0, securing a morale-boosting result even though there were changes made by both teams.
It means the mood is improved from when United last played a Premier League match at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, losing 3-1 at home to Brighton on an occasion where even a fine first goal from Hannibal Mejbri was unable to lift spirits.
Despite two much-needed wins and clean sheets against Burnley and Palace, there remains significant ground to make up in the Premier League if United want to put in a serious challenge for a place in the top four.
Ten Hag has his work cut out already, with rivals Manchester City building a good lead at the top and Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle United, Brighton and Aston Villa all rated as more likely to secure a top-four berth as things stand in our season projections.
The two Palace clashes are part of a stretch where United will play six out of seven matches at home across all competitions, just as it appears their injury issues are improving.
While Jadon Sancho and Antony remain absent with Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka still on the injury list, United saw Sofyan Amrabat impress in his full debut against Palace in the EFL Cup, while Mason Mount and Harry Maguire also returned.
Raphaël Varane is back in the fold too, so once Lisandro Martínez is fit to return there should be a more solid look to the Man Utd lineup compared to the earlier stages of September.
Palace, meanwhile, suffered a blow when top scorer Odsonne Édouard was injured in their 0-0 home draw with Fulham, with star winger Michael Olise still expected to be out until the next international break too.
While the last home league match for the Red Devils was the disappointing Brighton defeat, form at Old Trafford has been a huge strength of the Ten Hag era, with away matches – particularly those against the leading sides – proving far more problematic for the Dutchman.
United will therefore be hopeful of avoiding consecutive Premier League defeats in front of their own fans, something that has not happened since November 2021 in the last two such games managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before his departure.
In Bruno Fernandes and Eberechi Eze, each team has a player who is making a significant attacking impact across the early weeks of the campaign.
United captain Fernandes scored a stunning volley against Burnley and now has 80 Premier League goal involvements, with 46 goals and 34 assists. His total over that period is only bettered by three other players in the top flight.
And the superb strike at Turf Moor, set up by Jonny Evans, was the 25th winning goal Fernandes has been involved in for United in the league, having scored 16 winners and assisted such goals nine times. Only Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane (both 31) have had a hand in more Premier League winners since the Portugal international’s move from Sporting CP.
Eze, meanwhile, has been central to everything for Palace so far in 2023-24. He was involved in six of their seven attempts in the Fulham draw, racking up three shots and contributing a key pass for three further chances. Across all Premier League players, it is England international Eze who has the most shots and chances created combined with 42.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace Head-to-Head
United eased to a 3-0 win in the EFL Cup last time out. Alejandro Garnacho opened the scoring after good work from Diogo Dalot down the right and surprise top scorer Casemiro headed in his fourth goal of the season before the break.
Casemiro then set up a welcome strike from Anthony Martial in the second half, which made sure of a place in the last 16 before Rasmus Højlund came off the bench.
The last Premier League meeting was also at Old Trafford, with Man Utd just about emerging with a 2-1 triumph in February, so the hosts now have the chance to win consecutive league games against Palace for the first time since 2018.
A penalty from Fernandes and a Marcus Rashford strike appeared to have the hosts in control of that last league meeting, but Casemiro was sent off for grabbing Will Hughes’ neck and a goal from Jeffrey Schlupp ensured there was a nervous finish for the hosts.
Fernandes also scored in the Selhurst Park fixture last season after being set up by Christian Eriksen, but a stunning last-gasp free-kick from Olise saw Palace grab a 1-1 draw.
Including that draw, United have failed to beat Palace in five of their previous eight Premier League meetings, so this fixture is proving more difficult these days than it once did. Prior to that recent batch of top-flight meetings, United had won 16 of the first 20 Premier League matches between the two sides.
Man Utd go into the latest clash as favourites but will need to fare better than they have of late against Palace boss Roy Hodgson. The veteran manager is unbeaten in his last four Premier League trips to Old Trafford and could become the first-ever head coach to go unbeaten in five consecutive top-flight away games against the 20-time English champions.
Manchester United are hoping their last two home Premier League matches – the loss to Brighton and a dramatic escape to secure a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest – are temporary defensive blips.
They conceded five goals in those two matches, having only had six goals scored against them in the previous 17 home league games. In the Premier League era, the Red Devils have only conceded 2+ goals in three consecutive contests at Old Trafford twice before.
Palace have generally struggled in away matches during 2023, winning just three of their 14 top-flight matches on the road, with no statement victories in trips to play the top clubs. The poor run includes defeats at Chelsea, Man Utd, Brighton, Arsenal and Tottenham, as well two away losses to Aston Villa.
Hodgson will be concerned that his side managed just 13 shots across their last two top-flight games (six away to Villa and seven at home against Fulham). Before those two fixtures, his team had registered at least 10 shots in 13 of their 14 league matches under him, averaging 15.6 per game.
Slow starts are also doing Palace no favours. Luton Town are the only other side this season who are yet to score in the first half. Indeed, Palace have had 35 first-half shots without scoring. Stretching it out to 2023 overall, the Eagles have netted just six first-half goals in 28 league matches – and three of those came in one game against West Ham.
This was also evident against United in the cup. Palace did not manage a single attempt at goal before half-time at Old Trafford and the tie was all but over by the time they awoke from their slumber.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace Prediction
The Opta supercomputer is backing Manchester United to beat Crystal Palace.
Man Utd are given a 51.3% chance of recording another victory at Old Trafford, with the visitors rated at 21.3% and the draw a live threat at 27.4%.
While those match odds look reasonably good for the hosts, the supercomputer has also looked at the campaign overall, simulating the 2023-24 season 10,000 times to review the chances of both teams as things stand – and the findings may be alarming for United supporters.
Due to their early defeats, the chance of Man Utd winning the title is now almost non-existent and they are given just an 11% chance of reaching the top four, which has crashed down from 63.2% before the season began.
United have never finished lower than seventh in the Premier League table, so fans will be optimistic of overperforming current expectations, but the latest Opta supercomputer predictions rate their most likely finishing position as eighth. There is a significant 61.3% chance they finish between sixth and ninth place, missing out on a return to the UEFA Champions League.
At such an early stage of the season, there is still everything to play for but it is clear United already have little time to waste, with embarking on a winning run essential if they want to maintain a realistic chance of closing the gap to their main rivals, with a derby date against Man City to come next month.
Palace, meanwhile, are most likely to finish 11th. They end up safely in mid-table between 10th and 13th position in over half of our simulations (60.3%). After a solid start, their relegation chance is now down at 1.4%, massively reduced from the 6.7% before a ball had been kicked.