Next up to visit Selhurst is Manchester United so TEB had a chat with the guys at The United Devils on the season so far, thoughts ahead of kick and much more.
Q. What did you make of the game between the two sides at Old Trafford earlier in the season?
Of course, it was a disappointing result for United, but I do think many have forgotten that we had played in the Europa League semi-final a few weeks before and had no pre-season. Regardless, United were not up for the match and Palace were brilliant. Zaha was excellent and bullied Lindelof the whole match. Palace did get a lucky penalty but take nothing away from their performance which was worthy of the win.
Q. How has this campaign been for United so far?
Highs and lows for sure. Things looked worse than they were in the early weeks, but this team finally got back to full fitness and showed its class during the campaign. Obviously, the Champions League exit was a huge embarrassment, and another semi-final exit was a disappointing result to take. However, there are clear signs of progress from last season despite all the circumstances and we are looking a much better side.
Q. Considering the stick that OGS has taken since he was appointed, he has done pretty well, hasn’t he?
Absolutely! I think you cannot underestimate the job he has done removing players that didn’t want to be at the club and replaced them with players that do, turning this team into the most likable United side since Sir Alex retired. This team works hard, plays great football and scores goals. All this and he hasn’t been fully backed in the last two windows. I think he needs to win a trophy this season but there has been considerable progress in the last two seasons and a lot of credit goes to Solskjaer.
Q. Obviously, we still keep a look out for AWB – how has he settled in at United and have the fans taken to him?
I think he’s brilliant. I love the way he defends and takes on players one-on-one. He has taken on some of the best wingers in the world and come out on top. What’s more is that he is starting to improve in attack and playing out from the back which is crucial for the modern-day full-back. At 23, he could be our starting right back for the next decade if he keeps improving at this current rate.
Q. How was your business in the January transfer window and do you have needs that have not been addressed?
I am writing this with a wry smile. Not great business overall for United. Amad coming in is an exciting prospect and has already got himself into the first team picture so early into his United career and I cannot wait to see more of him. However, this season we have been screaming for a centre back, a natural defensive midfielder and a proper right winger to go straight into the first team. I think Lindelof and Bailly can compete for the rest of the season, Greenwood, James and perhaps Amad will be able to cover the right wing position and we can make do for now but if we had shown a little more ambition in January, who knows what would have happened. I do hope the board and Ed Woodward amend their errors these last two windows by next summer but optimism for United transfer windows is normally followed by more disappointment.
Q. Who has been the stand-out player for United so far this season?
Who else but Bruno Fernandes! The man has been a sensation since his arrival, and I cannot see that stopping any time soon. His numbers are ridiculous for a midfielder and he has revolutionised United’s attack. Obviously, players like Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire, and Luke Shaw have all been excellent but Bruno has been even better.
Q. What do you make of Palace this season?
It does still feel like if Zaha is not in form, Palace struggle. I think Eze has been brilliant and added a lot of energy in attack, but Palace need a prolific striker. Mateta made an impact against Brighton but neither he nor Batshuayi were brought on against Fulham in which there were no shots from Palace at all. I cannot say I watched the match but that seems strange from an outside perspective. I can easily see this being the same situation as last season where Palace will get to a safe position and then start losing games left, right and centre.
Q. Fans not being able to go to games has been huge for what has been almost a year but how does it feel that there is some real light at the end of the tunnel with the potential for a return next season?
You always have to think that way and you hope and pray it comes quicker than anticipated. Especially since the only game United can play with fans in the stadium is at Molineux this season! Old Trafford hasn’t been the same without fans and so the sooner the better for United. No doubt Palace fans feel the same because Selhurst Park creates such an amazing atmosphere, and it was certainly missing when the sides met last season.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
Normally I would say Zaha because he is a quality player and could play in any of the top sides in Europe. However, since he is injured, I will repeat my player from the fixture at Old Trafford and look out for Eze who I would like to see in a United shirt in the future.
Q. …and finally, your all-important prediction?
I can see this being a tight affair. I expect Palace to defend with 10 men behind the ball and try and counter United. Honestly, I would expect United to keep a clean sheet based on Palace’s last two games having two shots on target combined but we tend to switch off early in away games. I expect an away win, but I don’t think it will be an easy one. 0-2 to United.