Ralf Rangnick will take charge of Manchester United for the first time on Sunday afternoon, as the Red Devils welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford in the Premier League.
The home side will enter the contest off the back of a 3-2 home win over Arsenal on Thursday, while Palace suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Leeds United on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice – his 800th and 801st career goals – as Man United came from behind to pick up a huge three points against Arsenal on Thursday; Emile Smith Rowe‘s strike, which flew into an empty net with David de Gea on the ground nursing an injury, sent the Gunners ahead, but the home side managed to turn the game around, with Ronaldo’s 70th-minute penalty proving to be the difference in a 3-2 success.
Rangnick watched on from the stands as Michael Carrick delivered another positive result, and the stand-in manager then announced after the match that he would be leaving the club immediately.
The Red Devils are now preparing to enter a new era under Rangnick, who is open to staying as head coach beyond the end of the season, and the German will be looking to make it back-to-back wins for Man United in the Premier League for the first time since the middle of September.
Thursday’s success over Arsenal moved the 20-time English champions into seventh spot in the table, three points behind fourth-placed West Ham United, and there is no question that the new head coach will be expected to secure a top-four finish this term considering the talent in the squad.
It is a quick turnaround from the clash with the Gunners, but Rangnick must settle immediately ahead of a busy run of fixtures; the team have a pressure-free Champions League clash with Young Boys next week, though, having already booked their spot in the next round of the competition as Group F winners.
Palace, meanwhile, are on a three-game winless run in England’s top flight, losing their last two matches against Aston Villa and Leeds United, in addition to drawing 3-3 at Burnley on November 20.
The Eagles beat Manchester City 2-0 away from home at the end of October, though, and they were victorious at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season, recording a 3-1 win.
Palace have actually not lost to Man United at Old Trafford since September 2017, winning two and drawing one of their last three matches away to the 20-time English champions, so they should enter this game full of confidence despite dropping down to 11th in the table due to their recent struggles.
Patrick Vieira‘s side have won three, drawn seven and lost four of their 14 matches to collect 16 points, and only the top three – Chelsea (one), Manchester City (two) and Liverpool (one) – and Brighton & Hove Albion (3) have lost fewer Premier League games this term.
The capital club have had longer to prepare for this match, which should be an advantage, and Vieira will be desperate to get one over on the team that he battles on so many occasions as a player.
Man United will again definitely be without the services of Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba through injury, while Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw remain major doubts for the contest at Old Trafford.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed out against Arsenal due to a hand injury; he could come back into contention for this match but might miss out to Diogo Dalot, who impressed against the Gunners.
Nemanja Matic was also absent against Mikel Arteta‘s side due to a hamstring problem and is unlikely to return, so it would not be a surprise to see the same XI that started on Thursday, as Rangnick will be able to rotate his squad against Young Boys in the Champions League next week.
Ronaldo was substituted in the latter stages of the clash with Arsenal, but the change was only a precaution, and the 36-year-old is again expected to lead the line.
As for Palace, assistant manager Osian Roberts said during Friday’s press conference that Joachim Andersen is responding to treatment on his hamstring problem and could be available for selection.
James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson remain absent through injury, though, while Joel Ward will miss out through suspension, so James Tomkins could move out to right-back.
Christian Benteke and Luka Milivojevic both started on the bench against Leeds last time out, but the pair are pushing to return, while Wilfried Zaha will line up against his former club in attack.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Tomkins, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Kouyate; Ayew, Benteke, Zaha