CRYSTAL PALACE host Man Utd on Wednesday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United | Wednesday 3rd March 2021, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Boris Johnson's four stage roadmap out of lockdown has been announced and we could finally see the long-awaited return of fans to football stadiums in time for the start of the new season – in which case, if all goes to plan Crystal Palace supporters may need to not only dust off their season tickets but their footy boots too.
Incredibly, Palace have almost half their squad out of contract this summer and no new deals are thought to be imminent, with manager Roy Hodgson telling them they need to EARN new deals whilst saying himself earlier this month that he was “undecided” about his own stay beyond the end of the campaign.
A crazy situation to be in and that uncertainty is starting to manifest itself in performances on the pitch with still 13 games of the season left to play the owners may start to be looking a little nervously at that ten-point cushion to the final relegation place – but will the majority of the players?
Four points collected against relegation rivals Brighton and Fulham may seem a solid week of form from the South London outfit – however I watched the game against the Seagulls which could go down as one of the most unjust victories of the season and by all accounts the goalless draw at home to the Cottagers was no better.
In the 2-1 win at the Amex sealed by Christian Benteke's’ 95th minute strike, Roy Hodgson’s men had an xG of just 0.18 compared to their hosts 2.59 unbelievably they then managed to ‘beat' that total at Selhurst Park by registering 0.09 xG – still not their lowest mark of the season, which was 0.05 xG coming in the 4-0 defeat to United’s cross city rivals, and in doing so the wing clipped Eagles have two of the three lowest xG totals of the season so far.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would not be at the top of the list of visitors if the home side could have handpicked their opponents to improve those wretched statistics.
The Red Devils have won on each of their last five visits to Selhurst Park and you have to go back as far as 1991 for the last time they left SE25 empty handed when an Ian Wright opener was added to by a John Salako brace in a 3-0 win for the Eagles helping them to a third-place finish in the pre–Premier League days of Division One.
We only need to go back as far as September though for the last time Palace defeated United with a brace from talisman Wilfried Zaha adding to an Andros Townsend opener to secure a shock 3-1 Old Trafford win.
Zaha is back in modified training, but it is very likely he'll remain out for Wednesday's match despite Roy Hodgson’s best attempt at a poker face when pressed on a potential return for the Ivory Coast international this week – he of course will be a big miss for his side who struggle in his absence.
In attempting to avenge that aforementioned defeat Manchester United will be looking to extend an astonishing run of 20 away league games without defeat (W13, D7, L0) which has been built on defensive solidity in conceding just 17 goals.
Those away games have seen a healthy return of 39 goals however the stats since the start of the year have led me to what looks a cracking bet via Bet365’s Bet Builder.
Six 2021 EPL away games for United, including trips to Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, have seen them concede just two goals and keep four clean sheets with none having more than three match goals so therefore I am happy to add under four goals in the match for both teams combined to a Manchester United win for odds of 11/10.
I have another 11/10 shot as my next bet which could act as a cover for the first selection but is one I very much expect to be a case of landing as well as, not instead of.
Palace have been haemorrhaging shots in recent weeks and I can see that being the case here again – West Ham (17), Newcastle (21), Leeds (17), Burnley (16), Brighton (25) and Fulham (16) have all rained in attempts at Vicente Guaita’s goal with only a pitiful six from a blunt Wolves side in January having less than 16.
However, we can get odds against for Marcus Rashford and co to cross that same line – it’s 11/10 with SkyBet for Manchester United to have 16+ shots and looks a certain play to me.
As part of that research in to shots my eyes were drawn to how one United player has really upped his output in that area of the game recently – and it’s a fairly unlikely source…. which also means we can possibly take advantage of a bit of value from our bookie ‘friends'!
Scott McTominay – yes let’s move away from the fact he obviously has nudes of every EPL referee and his 32 fouls have yet to see him booked in the EPL – in his first 23 appearances this season managed a shot on target in three of them and had four in total.
In the Scotland international’s last five appearances he has hit the target in each one from a total of nine shots – some noticeable upturn and with the prospect as outlined above of Palace operating with a low block, inviting United on he may be tempted to try his luck.
I really like the look of McTominay stretching his streak to six games with a shot on target at generous odds of 23/10 with Betfair and I will also be playing the same player to have two or more shots at 2/1 with the same firm – this is something he has done in three of those last five appearances.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United – Manchester United to win and Under 4 Goals (11/10 Bet 365)
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United – Manchester United 16+ total shots (11/10 Sky Bet)
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United – Scott McTominay to have 1 or more shots on target (23/10 Betfair)
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United – Scott McTominay to have 2 or more shots (2/1 Betfair)