Manchester United will be bidding to secure sixth position in the Premier League table when they travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on the final matchday of the campaign. The Red Devils are currently sixth in the division, two points ahead of seventh-placed West Ham United, while Palace sit 13th following their 3-2 loss at Everton on Thursday night. Palace found themselves two goals ahead at Goodison Park on Thursday evening, with Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew on the scoresheet in the opening 36 minutes, but the Toffees turned it around in the second half to secure a huge three points which ensured Premier League survival.
There was an unsavoury incident at the end of the match at Goodison Park, with Palace head coach Patrick Vieira involved in an altercation with a supporter, with the Frenchman appearing to kick out at the fan after being subjected to abuse, and Merseyside Police and the Football Association are investigating the incident. Despite the loss at Everton, it has been a positive season for Palace, with a total of 45 points from 37 matches leaving them in 13th spot in the table, and they could still finish as high as 10th depending on the results on the final matchday of the campaign. The Eagles have not finished higher than 11th in the league since 2015, while they also reached the semi-finals of this season’s FA Cup, losing to Chelsea on April 17.
Palace were on a four-game unbeaten run in the league before losing at Goodison, and they have also only been beaten on four occasions at Selhurst Park in England’s top flight this term, which should hand them confidence as they prepare to host a wounded Man United. In a season of disastrous performances, arguably Man United’s worst came at Brighton & Hove Albion on May 7, suffering a 4-0 defeat to the Seagulls, which left them in sixth spot in the table on 58 points. Incoming head coach Erik ten Hag is now in England and expected to be in attendance at Selhurst Park, and there is something substantial for the club to fight for on Sunday, as they are bidding to keep hold of sixth position, which would secure a spot in next season’s Europa League.
A win for the Red Devils on Sunday would secure sixth, but a draw or a defeat would open the door for seventh-placed West Ham, who are only two points behind, with the Hammers travelling to Brighton & Hove Albion looking to swap the Europa Conference League for the Europa League. Man United will post their worst ever points total in the Premier League even if they manage to win this weekend, having collected just 58 points from their 37 matches, recording 16 wins, 10 draws and 11 defeats during a poor campaign, which was supposed to see them challenge for the title.
The Red Devils have won six, drawn five and lost seven of their 18 away league fixtures this term, but they are looking to make it a league double over Palace, having recorded a 1-0 victory over Vieira’s side in the reverse fixture back in December, with Fred scoring the only goal of the contest. Sunday’s fixture will mark Ralf Rangnick’s final game in charge of the 20-time English champions, as he prepares to step aside for Ten Hag, although the German will remain contracted to the club on a consultancy basis, balancing the role with being head coach of Austria. Palace are expected to be missing Marc Guehi on Sunday due to the ankle injury that the defender picked up against Everton, while Nathan Ferguson and Michael Olise will also be absent.
James Tomkins and James McArthur are also major doubts, so Cheikhou Kouyate could be pressed into action in the middle of the defence, while there are also expected to be changes in midfield, with Conor Gallagher and Luka Milivojevic set to start. Vicente Guaita could also be back between the sticks, but it could be the same front three from the defeat at Goodison, with Mateta and Ayew, who both scored on Thursday, featuring alongside Wilfried Zaha. As for Man United, Rangnick said during his press conference that there would be “quite a few missing” this weekend, naming Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones are likely absentees.
Luke Shaw has been back in training after recovering from a leg operation, but the defender’s wife has just given birth, so he is a major doubt, while youngster Alejandro Garnacho has been unwell and will therefore face a late fitness test. Marcus Rashford could be back in the side after recovering from bronchitis, but Eric Bailly could again miss out with a back complaint, while Paul Pogba is also expected to be absent due to a calf issue, so the Frenchman could have played his final match for the club. Mason Greenwood remains suspended by the Red Devils, meanwhile, so Anthony Elanga could start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Rashford in a front three, with Harry Maguire and Fred potentially returning to the side following the heavy defeat at Brighton.
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Kouyate, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Eze; Ayew, Mateta, Zaha
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Varane, Telles; Fred, McTominay, Fernandes; Elanga, Ronaldo, Rashford