Tonight we should get a chance to see if the kids are alright, the Manchester United kids, that is, as United host Championship side Crystal Palace in the quarterfinals of the Carling Cup. Cardiff, Liverpool, and Manchester City booked places in the semifinals last night, and United will be expected to do so tonight. Will the youngsters shine tonight? More importantly, will they get a chance to shine?
United and Crystal Palace haven’t met since Palace’s short stay in the Premier League in the 2004/05 season.
That season, the two sides faced off three times, with United winning two and drawing one. United won 5-2 at home and drew 0-0 at Selhurst Park in the league, and in a Carling Cup fourth-round tie at Old Trafford, United claimed a 2-0 win.
1. Palace currently sit 12th in the Championship, with 26 points from 18 matches. However, they are only three points out of the playoff places.
2. Since beating Championship leaders Southampton 2-0 in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, Palace have not only gone without a win in their last five matches, they’ve also failed to score a single goal.
In that stretch, they’ve had three goalless draws at home, and in their two away matches, they went down 2-0 at Cardiff City and 3-0 at Leicester City.
3. Glenn Murray is their leading scorer in the league with four goals, while young Irish attacker Sean Scannell has impressed, with three goals and four assists thus far.
However, in the Carling Cup, their star has been 19-year-old forward Wilfried Zaha, who has scored three goals in four matches.
1. United have won their last eight home ties in the Carling Cup, dating back to a 2-0 defeat to Coventry City in a third-round match in September 2007.
2. United have notched back-to-back 3-0 away wins over Leeds and Aldershot to get to this point in the competition, and it’s likely we’ll see at least a couple of goals from United tonight, as they have scored multiple goals in six of those eight consecutive Carling Cup home wins.
3. So, you can scrap that intro, as the youngsters expected to see a start, Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, and Zeke Fryers, among others, are all on the bench tonight. However, we should hope to see the fringe players put the result beyond doubt in the first half so that the youngsters get their fair chance to impress in the second half.
I will not pretend to hide my disappointment, or at the least bewilderment, that one among the trio of Fryers, Pogba, or Morrison isn’t in the starting lineup tonight, because this represents the best chance, outside of the FA Cup, for the most promising youngsters to get a start.
However, the fringe players need a run-out here and there and the likes of Rafael and Chris Smalling need to get back to match fitness, so there’s that. There is also a match to be won, and the starting XI that Fergie is putting out on the pitch tonight should be able to take care of that in enough time for us to get our desired look at our future stars.
Score Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace
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