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PREVIEW: Man Utd vs Crystal Palace


PALACE head to the Theatre of Dreams this lunchtime in the hope of repeating what they did to Manchester United in the League Cup two seasons ago.

Despite United not fielding their strongest line-up that night in December 2011, it was still a classed as a big upset, mainly remembered by Darren Ambrose's wonder strike from outside the box.

However, Palace can expect a much tougher test in the lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford, with the likes of Robin Van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Nemanja Vidic all set to start for the hosts.

There is no denying Palace will be up against it, but if they can hold David Moyes' men for up to an hour, who's to say they can't grab a goal through new signings Cameron Jerome, Jimmy Kebe or Adlene Guedioura?

All three are set to be part of Ian Holloway's match-day squad, with Jerome and Kebe in particular likely to start. Playmaker Barry Bannan also has a chance of starting after returning from international duty with Scotland in midweek.

Adrian Mariappa could make his debut in place Joel Ward or Danny Gabbidon, while Damien Delaney and Dean Moxey, who were superb in the last match against Sunderland, are set to keep their places.

Eagles defender Jonathan Parr completed 60 minutes against Oman on Tuesday, and despite saying he could be ready to play a part at Old Trafford, he's unlikely to be risked by Holloway, while Yannick Bolasie and Jerome Thomas are probably another week away from a first-team return.

With Jonny Williams out injured, Guedioura seems to be the likely person to take his place on the bench, while Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi are expected to anchor the midfield to stop the likes of Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick or new signing Marouane Fellaini coming through the middle.

Jose Campana looks set to play his part as well in the middle of the park.

The standout candidate that Palace must stop is Van Persie, though. We all know what the Dutchman is capable of; assists, corners, free-kicks and lots of goals. If the Eagles can nullify him from playing to his strengths, they may have a good chance of getting something from the game.

And of course, how could we forget a certain Wilfried Zaha? But saying that, it seems as if Moyes has forgotten about the former Palace star already, despite making a big impression in pre-season.

Many have felt Zaha would step in and gradually take to the Premier League for the Red Devils, but after Nani signed a new contract this week, the road to becoming a regular has been blocked, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young also vying for starting places.

However, Moyes may decide to hand Zaha his first top-flight appearance against his previous club, or bring him on from the bench. And if he does, he's in for top reception from the travelling Palace fans.

Wayne Rooney suffered a nasty blow to the head in training last week after a collision with Phil Jones and missed out on England's World Cup qualification games as a result, but there is an outside chance he may feature.

So how can Palace stop United, or how will they shape up?

Holloway, who likes to attack the opposition, may decide to pack the midfield with five men and hit United on the counter.

Jerome could be given the task of playing the lone striker role, with support coming in from the wings in the form of Kebe and Jason Puncheon. But both will be expected to track back down the flanks to help Ward and Moxey.

That leaves Bannan or Campana to support through the middle, with Jedinak and Dikgacoi key in stifling United's play.

Indeed, the battle between Jedinak and Fellaini could be very interesting, while Gabbidon and Delaney will have to work well as a pair to stop Van Persie.

It's one of the biggest games of the season. But can the Eagles pull off another shock this time around?

We'll find out come Saturday lunchtime.

PREVIEW: Man Utd vs Crystal Palace

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