Without wanting to sound disrespectful to Crystal Palace (and with thoughts of what Leeds did to us here in the FA Cup a couple of years ago still fresh in the memory) the Carling Cup draw appears to have been kind to us once again for this, our quarter final match.
Not that I would have been too bothered had we drawn City, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool in this round from a progress point of view but it might have meant that Fergie wouldn’t be quite so bold with some of the selections he will undoubtedly make this evening and that would have been a shame for the lads concerned.
I’m talking, of course, about players like Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison and (possibly) Zeki Fryers who have been given their first team chances away from home so far in the competition but tonight might be expected to make their Old Trafford debuts and from the start, rather than from the bench.
Of course, none of us really knows what Fergie has in mind for the game this evening and trying to guess his team selection for any match these days is a little like trying to guess Saturday’s Lottery numbers, only you don’t get seven million quid for getting it right.
What we do know, however, is that he will be playing a team which he believes will be good enough to win the match.
Crystal Palace are not the force they once were and came quite close to being relegated from the Championship last season and this season is not shaping up much better for them as they sit in mid-division and without a win in their last six games but, somewhat bizarrely, they have beaten two of the better teams in the Championship (including leaders Southampton) to get to this stage of this competition.
However, I simply have to believe that we will have too much for them at Old Trafford this evening. The team Fergie puts out will have a smattering of “kids” but there will also be a lot of experience and quality in there. Berbatov was used in our last Carling Cup game and it seemed to rejuvenate him. Players such as Park and Valencia could also be included.
We have won both of our previous Carling Cup games 3-0 so far and it would seem unlikely that we’ll repeat that scoreline again but Crystal Palace are struggling for goals at the moment (the same could be said about us, I suppose) and have scored just two in their last seven league games.
I suspect Lindegaard will be given his chance in goal and, given competition for places, whoever Fergie chooses in defence will be giving everything to ensure that a clean sheet is kept so this won’t help Palace in their quest to get on the scoresheet so I’ll be very surprised if they score tonight.
The bookies are pretty convinced that we’ll win this one comfortably and that it will be a high scoring game, though. We certainly could win this 2-0 or 3-0 (or even beyond that) but I’d really like to see who will be playing upfront before going overboard on that kind of bet.
For this one, I am going to have a tentative bet on the corners market. I can see a lot of the play being in Palace’s half and if this doesn’t result in goals for us then it could result in plenty of corners.
The bet is 2 points Manchester United -4 on the Corner Handicap @ 2.00 with Paddy Power.