Manchester United vs Crystal Palace preview, betting tips and predictions: United to ease past basement boys at Old Trafford

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Manchester United to win 3-0 @ 11/2 with Paddy Power

Manchester United to win with over 3.5 goals @ 7/4 with Paddy Power

Draw HT/Manchester United FT @ 11/4 with Paddy Power

Roy Hodgson could be forgiven for not wanting to turn up to Old Trafford on Saturday, but with a game at home to Chelsea to follow, Crystal Palace need all the points they can get. With six defeats from six games, no goals scored and 13 conceded, the Eagles have made the worst start to a Premier League season ever, and it doesn’t look like getting any better against Jose Mourinho’s side.

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For spells in the first half of their clash with Manchester City last week, Palace looked like having something about them. They kept a good shape and looked decent on the counter attack through the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andros Townsend. But once City broke their resistance, they collapsed to a 5-0 defeat. Manchester United have tailed off in terms of their goalscoring, particularly because Paul Pogba has been injured and without him the midfield doesn’t connect with attack as much, but with Romelu Lukaku in the form he is, scoring eight goals this season, it is hard to see Palace holding out for the full 90 minutes. But their ability to keep a shape has developed since Hodgson took over from Frank de Boer, and United looked much more like they did last season, stagnant and lacking impetus, at Southampton last week. It is not inconceivable that the visitors could frustrate the Red Devils until the second half, and 11/4 is a good price to bet on it.

But everything points to a comfortable home win, Pogba or not. Palace are yet to score, and will be without Christian Benteke, who is reported to have damaged his cruciate ligament, while Wilfred Zaha is unlikely to be fit enough to return against his former club. Such a lack of firepower, plus the pace United can call upon in Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, will make the visitors sitting ducks. With an early goal, the Red Devils could make our 3-0 tip at 11/4 a reality.

Key battle: Ander Herrera vs Yohan Cabaye 

It is no coincidence that Manchester United’s attacking quality has declined since Pogba’s injury, because the Frenchman is a rather unique midfield player. Tall, strong, but gangly and agile, Pogba combines physical and technical traits, which have allowed him to dictate the play with powerful runs from midfield. He would constantly make sure the attack was never left isolated, which it was on far too many occasions last season, running beyond Lukaku when he could.

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The freedom he was afforded by Nemanja Matic in the middle was priceless, and now it could be Ander Herrera’s turn to take on the role. He will not do the same job as Pogba, but he could give United a real foothold in the midfield, dominating possession and getting the ball out wide. It will be the same role Cabaye will do for Palace, though he will not have as much to aim for when he looks forward. United need to stamp their authority in the middle of the park, which they didn’t do enough for long spells against Everton and at Southampton at the weekend.

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