Moment of truth for rivals
Manchester United have endured a frustrating campaign, but can still end it with some silverware when they face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
For United, this would be a 12th FA Cup triumph, their first since victory over Millwall in 2004, and a valuable addition to their impressive trophy collection.
For Palace, it would be their first win, and just their second appearance in the final since losing to United in 1990. The match will have the added allure of European football, as the FA Cup winner qualifies automatically for the Europa League group stages.
Arsenal eliminated the Red Devils last season, but they have reached Wembley this season by overcoming West Ham and Everton in the previous rounds. They needed a replay to get the better of the Hammers, who beat them 3-2 in their most recent Premier League match, while the Toffees were defeated thanks to a last-gasp winner from Anthony Martial.
The Eagles, meanwhile, might feel like a weight has been lifted after their 2-1 win over Stoke City last weekend. That victory over the Potters followed back-to-back defeats and a run of four games without a win, but that was just their second win in their last 20 league matches after a bright start to their campaign came off the rails midway through the season.
Those defeated by Palace in the earlier rounds of the competition include Southampton, Stoke City and Tottenham, before overcoming Watford in the semifinal. Manager Alan Pardew and his players will see the cup as a last chance to salvage a season that will be considered a disappointment, and will bring European football to Selhurst Park.
United hold the upper hand in head-to-head meetings, as they have won 21 of the 34 previous meetings, drawing seven and losing just six to their London-based rivals. Palace also have only defeated United once since 1991, that victory coming in a 2-1 win back in November of 2011.
Their last meeting in the league was another victory for the Red Devils, in which Matteo Darmian added to Damien Delaney’s own goal to give United a 2-0 win at Old Trafford after a goalless draw at Selhurst Park earlier on.
In team news, United look like they will have to make do without Darmian, as the Italian right-back is sidelined with an ankle injury.
German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger also misses out with a medial collateral ligament sprain in his knee.
– TEAMtalk Media