How Crystal Palace will line up against Manchester United

Crystal Palace’s preseason plans have caused much debate amongst the fans. The decision
to split the squad into two, with one group heading on a much-publicised tour to Singapore
and Australia and the other staying in England, has been divisive. It has also led to a rather
strange situation, where academy players will be lining up in the iconic Melbourne Cricket
Ground against likely a close to full-strength Manchester United team, whereas stars like
Wilfried Zaha and Marc Guehi have the honour of turning up to Priestfield, the home of
League Two Gillingham, just six hours after the game on the other side of the world finishes.
Turning to the Manchester United game, it is difficult to say what type of team manager
Patrick Vieira (who has not been left behind like other high-profile names) will field. Having
used all the senior outfield players in the tour’s last game against Liverpool opens the door
for more opportunities for youngsters. Jake O’Brien, who scored a week ago in a friendly
against Millwall, may be preferred to Joel Ward at centre back after an impressive loan spell
at Swindon last term. Malcolm Ebiowei, signed from Derby amid interest from Tuesday’s
opponents is also expected to be given more minutes in this encounter even though he is
competing with the highly rated Jes Rak-Sakyi who started the last Premier League game of
the season. Killian Phillips should get another opportunity and is already a star of Palace
twitter having emotionally stated after a good shift against a strong Liverpool midfield that
he wished his ‘ma was here tonight’.
Although fan favourite and academy graduate Tyrick Mitchell has travelled, Palace fans will
be keen to see Tayo Adaramola given game time. The Crystal Palace academy has produced
a large number of quality full backs over recent years, and he is no exception. Unlike Wan-
Bissaka and Mitchell who are both famed for being old fashioned ‘defence first’ full backs,
Adaramola has been praised by his manager for his attacking output and has already
registered an assist in preseason. That being said, it will be interesting to see how he deals
with United’s right sided attacking talent, which could well include both Diogo Dalot and
Jadon Sancho as threats. There may also be interest in his performance should he start from
the West Midlands, as Coventry City have been linked with a loan move.
Amongst the youth there is also likely to be some experience. Club captain Luka Milivojevic
is available in the midfield and will surely be utilised to give guidance to such a young side.
Moreover, although fans should look out for promising strikers Rob Street and Victor
Akinwale, Eduoard, Ayew, and Mateta are all in the squad and will likely be a part at some
point of the front three. Ultimately, the side fielded by Crystal Palace will be mostly inexperienced, yet highly promising as a collective.
Overall, Palace fans are rightly proud of their academy and prospects at the current moment
after significant investment give huge optimism for the future. This makes the opportunity
for them to play in front of tens of thousands of fans against one of the biggest clubs in
world football, who appear revitalised under a new manager (and fresh off the back of the
Bangkok Century Cup win), all the more enticing. Expectations may be fairly low in terms of
result, but we should relish giving them the chance and leave the thrill of Gillingham away
to Zaha and co.


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