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On a night that Manchester United desperately needed a win so as to maintain pressure on fourth placed Arsenal, the reds of Manchester eased past Crystal Palace with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night at Old Trafford. Although United are a point behind the Gunners who have a cumulative total of 60 points, the North Londoners still have an edge over Louis van Gaal’s side with a game in hand.
Arsenal- who have somewhat grown fond of a fourth place finish- will on Thursday night play host to West Brom who will be looking to complete the season double over the Gunners having narrowly won 2-1 at the Hawthorns last year.
Here are three observations from United’s triumph over Palace.
The hosts registered the perfect start with pace and fluidity that paid off in the fourth minute when Palace defender Damien Dalaney sent the leather past his own goalkeeper, although inadvertently. It was a beauty in every sense of the word, the kind that Robin van Persie used to score for fun, that the flat-footed Julian Speroni looked in angst as it whizzed past him and into the back of the net.
Speroni kept the Eagles in the match with a series of fine reflex saves in the minutes that ensued, but with Palace on the back-foot, it was only a matter of time before United killed it off. Matteo Darmian put the game beyond reach for the visitors with a left footed screamer ten minutes after the interval, his first ever goal in United colors.
Manchester United exhibited a dominant performance in all quotas, although one would argue the game was down to Crystal Palace’s ineptitude.
Fans kept off Old Trafford
The 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, the 2-0 hammering by Stoke, the 2-1 loss to Norwich City: these are all occasions that supporters of the opposite number were left singing “You’re getting fire in the morning!” Despite these despicable losses by United, Louis van Gaal has surprisingly held on his job as manager. Manchester United supporters have given up on waiting for Ed Woodward to pull the plug on the Dutchman, but not all of them.
The attendance released against Crystal Palace was 75,277, but it was quite evident due to the empty red seats that thousands of supporters kept off the match in what could only be assumed to be a protest. Supporters of various clubs in the Premier League often present their grievances in the most manifest of ways. In February this year, 10,000 Liverpool supporters left Anfield in the 77th minute in protest of match ticket price that had been raised to £77.
Although the protest at Old Trafford was subtle, the rage will certainly flare up if Manchester United miss Champions League qualification and fail to win the FA Cup.
Sights set on the FA Cup
Louis van Gaal’s side started the match with full attacking intent, a telltale sign that the gaffer wanted his charges to finish up the job early with full understanding of the beckoning FA Cup semifinal against Everton.
Manchester United will be full of confidence going into the match as they have already beaten Everton twice this season. Conversely, the Toffees suffered a humiliating 4-0 thumping in the Merseyside derby on the same night that United won against Palace.
United should surely have the psychological edge going into the semifinal at Wembley this Saturday.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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