Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Spurs was a crucial victory for Jose Mourinho, and suddenly things are starting to look a little brighter at Old Trafford. The Red Devils are still some way off the level they want to be at, but progression to the knockout stages of the Europa League and a win over a top four rival is a good week under the current circumstances.
On Wednesday night Mourinho will look to build on recent performances, and there are plenty of reasons for United fans to be positive. A visit to Crystal Palace beckons, and it’s a game that has plenty of sub-plots. Palace were the side United beat to win last year’s FA Cup, so there’s a chance of revenge for the Eagles, while Wilfried Zaha will have a point to prove after a disastrous big-money move to Old Trafford. Lots of added spice to consider, but the Red Devils will be popular among punters in light of their latest results, and it’s hard to place any confidence in a porous Crystal Palace team.
In other matches on the night West Brom look to be underestimated by the bookies, who are quoting odds-against prices about the Baggies beating Swansea on home ground; while West Ham look to build on an impressive 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, when they return to the London Stadium to take on relegation rivals Burnley.
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
We begin with the game at Selhurst Park, where United can be backed at -138 with Betfred.
Odds-on shots away from home are not our usual staple, but things seem to be settling down for Mourinho at Old Trafford, and his side are now unbeaten in eight games across all competitions. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has found his scoring boots again after a brief dry spell, and the likes of Martial and Mhktariyan look dangerous from wide positions. The latter has been little short of a revelation since breaking into the team and he scored the winner against Spurs over the weekend. Injury has shorn United of his services until Boxing Day, but there is enough quality in this squad to cope without the Armenian.
Most surprisingly – having been written off by some observers – Phil Jones has become a stalwart of Mourinho’s defence, and on Sunday was part of a formidable back pairing with Rojo. He’s another who suffered plenty of criticism, but we should remember that these are young international players for England and Argentina. If anyone can get the best out of them it’s a manager famed for his organisation.
For Alan Pardew and Palace it’s a familiar story. A theme of long losing runs seems to follow Pardew wherever he manages, and it was six defeats in a row before the 3-0 win over Southampton and last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Hull. That ding-dong battle with the Tigers probably sums the Eagles up well – from 1-0 down to 2-1 up, to 3-2 down to 3-3 at the death. They may have 27 in the ‘goals for’ column, but 29 goals against is more than any team outside the bottom four. Defence is the problem for Palace – they’ve conceded five at Swansea at three at Hull either side of that clean sheet at home to Southampton, which was their only shut-out of the Premier League season.
For United the equation is simple. They must approach every game to win in an attempt to claw back a 13 point deficit from Chelsea at the top of the league, impossible a task as it seems. They’re fancied to breach the Eagles’ defence at least once, and if they can keep a third clean sheet in a row, three more points should be in the bag.
West Brom v Swansea
The Swans may have grabbed two wins in the last three games, but both were at home and circumstances favoured the Welsh side on both occasions. Two injury-time goals turned a 4-3 defeat to Palace into an unlikely 5-4 victory, and a contentious penalty got them underway in the 3-0 win against Sunderland at the weekend. In-between those results though, they were humiliated 5-0 at Spurs – their 5th defeat in six on the road.
West Brom have hit the dizzy heights of 8th in the league, but judging by the performance away at Stamford Bridge on the weekend they are high on confidence. The Baggies were fighting their way to a very creditable 0-0 draw before McCauley’s uncharacteristic error let Diego Costa in to score that left-footed curler. There’s no shame in losing 1-0 to the current Chelsea side, and prior to that Tony Pulis’ men had beaten Leicester, Watford and Burnley in quick succession. A 4-0 defeat to Manchester City is their only home loss in the last six, and they’re generally good value to put in the yards in front of their own fans.
There is a feeling that Bob Bradley is not the man to make Swansea competitive in the Premier League, and although the former US manager has plenty of experience from around the globe, he has no experience of English football. Swansea remain in the bottom three, and this represents a good opportunity for West Brom to consolidate in the top half.
West Ham v Burnley
Another bet which catches the eye is over 2.5 goals when the two Claret and Blues meet at the London Stadium at -111 with Marathonbet.
West Ham’s struggles to adapt to the ex-Olympic stadium have been well-documented. In ten competitive matches at their new home this season, it’s 4 wins, 4 defeats and 2 draws. The Hammers are outside the bottom three by a single point though, and Slaven Bilic knows that the excuses only go so far. Under huge pressure, the likable Croatian has been given the vote of confidence by the board, but rumours suggest that the next four games – Burnley, Hull, Leicester and Swansea – will decide his future. That will ensure that the Hammers come out all guns blazing, and the 2-2 draw at Anfield over the weekend will have instilled plenty of confidence. Andy Carroll may be back to start this one after coming off the bench the last twice, and an attacking outlook is expected.
For Burnley, the 3-2 win over Bournemouth last weekend took them to 17 points in their search for survival, and a point may represent a good result here. However, they’ve conceded at least two goals in each of the last five games, so the chances are that they’ll have to find the net to get a result. There’s every possibility of that happening too, as the Hammers have conceded 31 goals in their 15 Premier League games – the second highest in the division.
Man United to beat Crystal Palace
Wednesday 14th December, 20:00 GMT
West Brom to beat Swansea
Wednesday 14th December, 20:00 GMT
West Ham v Burnley – Over 2.5 Goals
Wednesday 14th December, 19:45 GMT
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