Manchester United will be keen to build on Sunday’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur with another win at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night.
Jose Mourinho‘s men made up some important ground in the Premier League this weekend, reducing the gap between themselves and fourth placed Manchester City to six points.
That said, plenty of work still needs to be done during what promises to be a hectic few weeks. And with that in mind, here are three players that Mourinho must start against Alan Pardew’s men.
The absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan comes as huge blow to Mourinho and Co. The Armenian, since ending his two month absence from the starting XI on November 24, has been the side’s reference point going forward – their brightest spark, creating chances at will on the right hand side.
In his place will be Mata, a reliable, crafty attacking midfielder with an aptitude for picking apart sides that choose to sit back and remain compact. This will, no doubt, be the pattern on Wednesday night: Palace happily sitting back, waiting to unleash the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Andros Townsend on the break. The Spaniard’s ability to pin defences back, therefore, will come in handy for Mourinho.
Mourinho, in recent weeks, has left Blind to one side, using a back four of Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian in Premier League games instead, prompting concerns surrounding the Dutchman’s role in this Man United side.
With Antonio Valencia suspended, however, the 26-year-old will receive a chance to impress at left back, with Darmian occupying the right-back slot instead. Wednesday serves as an important opportunity for Blind to demonstrate his worth to Mourinho.
With Marcos Rojo suspended as well, the game against Palace serves as an ideal opportunity for Bailly to reassert himself on the Premier League. The Ivorian was rested on Sunday after his exertions in Ukraine, and Mourinho will want to build up the 22-year-old’s fitness in preparation for the busy period before he departs for the African Cup of Nations in January.