Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho enters the final game of a hectic September month with a litany of injury problems ahead of the international break.

Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba, Phil Jones have all been ruled out of the clash, while Marouane Fellaini is a doubt as Manchester United’s midfield options wear thin.

That said, Mourinho’s men will be bursting with confidence following their 4-1 drubbing of CSKA Moscow on Wednesday and the watching world will expect them to dispatch a Palace side without a point or goal this season.

Here are three players the 54-year-old must call upon from his limited options for the clash with Roy Hodgson’s side.

Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian didn’t travel with the rest of the squad to Moscow, with Mourinho electing to rest him once again, but his presence against the bottom club feels necessary.

Palace will look to sit back and contain the hosts before hitting them on the break, and Valencia’s indefatigable influence on the right hand side, combined with the craft of Juan Mata, will be important when breaking down Palace’s resolve and pinning back Patrick van Aanholt.

Nemanja Matic

Mourinho will be hardly crazy about seeing Matic three games in the space of week – especially ahead of the international break – but he appears to have little choice.

The Serbian, after all, has been a fundamental component of United’s dominant start to the season. His presence at the base of midfield invokes a wider sense of control further forward – especially for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has benefitted from Matic’s immense capacity to break through the lines.

Marcus Rashford

United cannot afford to be bogged down on Saturday. There will be some players feeling the effects of a 22 day period comprising of seven games, including a Wednesday trip to Moscow, and Mourinho will look towards Rashford – who only played 20 minutes against CSKA – to inject some vital pace and power on the flank.

The youngster has been a potent force in front of goal this season, netting five times, and United can not afford to waste time getting the ball to his feet as he looks to build on his promising partnership with Romelu Lukaku.

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