Crystal Palace v Manchester United: Rangnick's rein to end in a whimper

Crystal Palace host Manchester United on Sunday, in search of their first Premier League home victory against them at the 13th attempt. Steve Rawlings previews the match here...

Palace looking to sign off in style

A bruising encounter away at relegation-threatened Everton, less than three days prior to their final Premier League game of the season isn't ideal preparation for Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace.

Despite being matched at a low of 1.2 when leading 2-0 at halftime, the Eagles left Goodison Park on Thursday night with nothing but a harassed manager.

Vieira is the latest manager or player to be confronted by a post-game pitch invader and the only thing he's done wrong as far as I'm concerned is not kick the individual concerned hard enough!

Pitch invasion aside, the Toffees rallied brilliantly to win 3-2 and Palace have now won just one of their last five on the road but they've been tough to beat at Selhurst Park of late and they'll be looking to sign the season off in style on Sunday.

Since a 1-0 loss to Chelsea back in February, thanks to an 89th minute Hakim Ziyech goal, Palace are unbeaten in five at home in the Premier League but they've drawn more than they've won this season and incredibly, following a 1-0 win against Watford a fortnight ago, the Eagles are in search of consecutive victories at Selhurst Park for the first time since March 2020.

Whatever happens on Sunday, it's been a successful first season for Vieira. Palace were regarded as genuine relegation candidates, trading at 2.3 for the drop, before the start of the season and they were matched at a low of 2.0 to go down when they lost their opening fixture (3-0 at Chelsea) but they've been looking up instead of down for much of the campaign.

Indeed, they were matched at just 2.0 to finish the campaign inside the top-ten when leading at Goodison on Thursday night and whoever layed them at 1000.0 after the Toffees fight back didn't do their maths correctly.

With their superior goal difference, should they win on Sunday and Brighton, Brentford and Newcastle all lose, the Eagles will finish their campaign in the top half of the table. Not a bad effort given what was expected back in August.

Season can't end soon enough for Rangnick's Red Devils

It's less than eight months since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United left the London Stadium with all three points following a 2-1 victory against West Ham which saw their unbeaten run on the road in top-flight games stretch to an incredible 29 in-a-row.

The Red Devils lost their next away game, at Leicester 4-2, and just two months after their win at West Ham, after a very poor run of form, Solskjaer was shown the door.

Michael Carrick was given the reins on a temporary basis for a fortnight before Ralf Rangnick was assigned the surprising role of interim manager - an appointment that few United fans would view as being a success.

On April 21st, Erik ten Hag was announced as their new permanent manager and after a run on the road in stark contrast to Solskjaer's, which has seen United lose five Premier League matches in-a-row, with an aggregate score line of 16-2, everyone connected with the club will be eager to get Sunday's game out of the way.

Whatever the result is against Palace, Rangnick will leave his post having recorded the lowest win rate of any Manchester United manager in Premier League history (currently 43.5% - 10 wins from 23 games). Roll on the 2022/23 season and the ten Hag tenure!

Eagles can end their home hoodoo

Crystal Palace have hosted Manchester United in the Premier League on 12 previous occasions and they're yet to win. They've drawn four and lost eight and that's the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning in the competition's history. That's a huge plus for the Red but Vieira's men will be no pushovers.

Palace haven't conceded at home in any of their last four in the Premier League and there's an argument to be made that they'll have more rhythm than the visitors.

Thursday encounter at Goodison was a tough assignment for Palace but by the time United take to the field on Sunday, it will have been 15 days since their 4-0 mauling away at Brighton.

United need to win on Sunday to guarantee sixth place and to qualify for the Europa League but given the run they're on away from Old Trafford, and that Palace have lost only four games all season, they make no appeal whatsoever at around 2.3 and inclusion in the Europa Conference instead is highly likely.

Given Palace have already drawn eight of their previous 17 Premier League home games, an argument can be made for backing the draw, but in one the trickiest of end of season games to call, I'm happy to take a small chance on Vieira's men finishing the season off in style at odds-of around 9/4.

Rangnick's Red Devils are a sorry bunch and especially so away from home. They've been trailing at both half time and full time in each of their last five on the road in the Premier League and they're more likely to end the season with a whimper than a bang.

Palace to win their final match of the season and to end their home hoodoo against United at 3.25 looks the way to go.


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