Manchester United missed the opportunity to jump ahead of both Chelsea and Leicester in the hunt for Champions League places after drawing against Southampton in their last Premier League outing.
It was a huge chance for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side after a top four finish, never mind a top three finish, once looked so unlikely. The fact they didn’t take advantage now puts significant pressure on the team to get a win away at Crystal Palace on Thursday.
United also have an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea coming up just a few days later on Sunday as fixtures mount up. But Solskjaer has declared that will be no selection concessions at Selhurst Park in order to give the crucial Premier League game the full attention it requires.
David de Gea – GK: Mistakes have crept into De Gea’s game but the fact remains that he’s only conceded six goals in his last 11 Premier League outings. Has been a Premier League ever-present this season and will know he’s playing for his place in 2020/21.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB): Wan-Bissaka continues to add to his attacking game, as well as remaining one of the best one-on-one defenders in Europe. Has started virtually every Premier League game since he arrived and is an automatic starter.
Victor Lindelof (CB): The Swede didn’t cover himself in glory as Michael Obafemi equalised for Southampton last time out. He will be well aware that he has Eric Bailly breathing down his neck for a place in the team, while United have also been tipped to dip into the transfer market.
Harry Maguire (CB): Alongside De Gea, the captain is the only United player to have been on the pitch for every minute of every Premier League game this season. Still not world class in his performances but a leader on and off the pitch.
Ethan Laird (LB): Doubts about both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams opens up the possibility that 19-year-old Laird, who is typically a right-back, could be thrown in at the deep end for his Premier League debut. Diogo Dalot is another option but appears hugely out of favour.
Nemanja Matic (CM): The veteran Serbian provides other midfielders a platform to play on. He is a sturdier defensive shield than Scott McTominay at this moment in time, although it is hoped the young Scot will develop in Matic’s image in the next few years.
Paul Pogba (CM): At fault for Southampton’s opening goal on Monday but played a vital role in creating both of United’s. Pogba was also substituted relatively early in that one, perhaps with one eye on not overworking him and the other on Thursday night.
Bruno Fernandes (AM): Fernandes got another assist against the Saints to make it 16 combined goals and assists in all competitions since he joined in January. Solskjaer dare not rest or rotate him because there are not enough creative options without him.
Daniel James (RF): Mason Greenwood is a slight doubt for this one as a result of knock to the ankle inflicted by Southampton’s Oriel Romeu. That means there could a chance for James, who scored against Palace in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford way back in August.
Anthony Martial (ST): Martial really is developing into a proper centre-forward worthy of the number nine shirt that has been returned to him this season. He was United’s chief attacking threat against Southampton and is enjoying the best year of his career to date.
Marcus Rashford (LF): Away from the pitch, Rashford has enacted real positive social change and has now been rewarded for his campaigning with an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester. On it, he’s not quite been back to his best since the restart but remains a threat.
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