Manchester United will be on a high after defeating Chelsea last weekend and Jose Mourinho would expect his boys to come up with an even better performance on Monday against Crystal Palace.
Manchester City are running away with the league but there is still a lot to fight for as the race for the Champions League places hots up.
United, who are second, two points above third-placed Liverpool, cannot afford to take their foot off the gas when they face Palace.
The Eagles present a different challenge and although they are winless since January, they are a threat at home and could make United’s life difficult at Selhurst Park.
Team and Injury News
In his pre-match press conference, Mourinho confirmed that the likes of Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are all unavailable for the trip to Selhurst Park.
Mourinho also won’t have Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the game despite the Swede taking part in the open training session before the UEFA Champions League trip to Sevilla.
The veteran star signed a contract extension in the summer and although he initially returned from a knee problem, he has not featured for the club since the Boxing Day draw with Burnley at Old Trafford.
“I think he won the right of choosing his life and his future – he’s such an amazing player with such an amazing career that only that awful injury in the wrong moment broke a fantastic couple of seasons that he could, and should, have with us.
“This season has been really difficult for him. Is he injured? No, he’s not injured. Does he feel totally happy and totally ready and totally convinced that he’s in [the] conditions to help the team at this moment? No.
“But he’s such an honest guy and such a champion that he only wants to be back with that feeling of ‘I’m totally ready for it’. He’s working hard and, hopefully, his evolution brings him to that level that he wants to have a positive answer.”
When asked about Marouane Fellaini, our gaffer added:
“He will be back to play again in a couple of weeks. If we proceed beyond Sevilla, I think he will be ready for the hypothetical quarter-final, and a hypothetical FA Cup semi-final, and the last couple of months of our Premier League fight.”
Over the last month or so, Scot McTominay has carved out an unlikely role at United. His growth and development is an extraordinary story. The 21-year-old is highly rated by the manager and finds himself in the middle of a battle between England and Scotland, both of whom are fighting for his services.
McTominay has suddenly become an important player for the club and on the academy kid’s meteoric rise, Mourinho said:
“My advice to him is to keep the way he is: very humble, open to learning, stay intelligent and keep going in the same direction, fighting to have minutes playing for Manchester United, which is not easy.”
“He is keeping his feet on the ground. He has passed some important tests – from the mental point of view – playing against Chelsea and in the Champions League. There’s a long way to go and I hope he can continue in the same direction.”
On top four race heating up, our boss added:
“The gap is a short gap between second and fifth is really really short. It’s really open for everyone. But all four we are in the Champions League still, we have other focus and targets.
“All of us very good teams. I read that the others are better than us, but that’s not the reality. From my personal point of view second is better than third.”
It won’t be a cakewalk at Selhurst Park and United will have to dig deep to earn all three points. Palace are a different beast at home and would offer us a really different challenge in front of their boisterous supporters.