Preview: Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Crystal Palace have never beaten Manchester United in eight Premier League meetings, losing six and drawing twice.
  • United have won 529 PL matches, compared to Crystal Palace’s 38.
  • Manchester United have failed to score in back-to-back Premier League games for the first-time since 2007.

David Moyes’ Manchester United side are angry. You probably won’t like them when they’re angry.

Their last Premier League outing resulted in a 1-0 defeat to fierce rivals Liverpool in the North West Derby on September 1. Cast your minds back to before the current international break started and you may remember that the Red Devils were struggling a little bit.

But a chance to put those early struggles behind them presents itself on Saturday against newly-promoted Crystal Palace (7:45am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as United aim to grab Moyes’ first-ever win at home.

The jury is still out on Moyes and many are already criticizing his ‘negative’ tactics that have seen United fail to score in their last two PL games, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea and a 1-0 loss to Liverpool.

But is that fair? Moyes has been in charge since the start of the summer but Sir Alex Ferguson’s shadow still looms large over the new Scottish manager in charge at Old Trafford.

Regardless United splashed the cash to bring in Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini for $42 million and the Belgian international is in line to make his United debut on Saturday.

As for Crystal Palace, manager Ian Holloway was seen doing a nice little jig as they beat Sunderland 3-1 in their last game as they registered their first points of the season after back-to-back wins to open the campaign. Holloway was busy in the transfer window, adding the likes of Jason Puncheon, Cameron Jerome, Adrian Mariappa and Barry Bannan to the Eagles squad.

That being said, Palace would snap your hand off if you offered them a draw before the daunting trip to Old Trafford.

Chris Smalling could replace Phil Jones at right back while Wayne Rooney won’t be rushed back from that nasty head injury, so expect Danny Welbeck to partner Robin van Persie up front. Palace have no new injury concerns and could start their plethora of new signings.

What they’re saying

David Moyes on Wayne Rooney’s injury: “He’s in great physical shape but obviously he’s got the cut right in the middle of his forehead which could split where the skin is very thin. He’s had the stitches out and it’s knitted well. We’ve just got to see where the level of risk is with his head injury.”

Ian Holloway on David Moyes succedding at United: “It is the end of a legend. Ferguson has left a legacy behind him. But David is a fantastic manager and he has decided that is what he wanted to do. It was an honour for him to get the job and good luck to him, but not this weekend. Only time will tell for all of us what we leave, the mark we leave at each club that we work for. I hope Dave leaves a fantastic mark on Manchester United. He has worked so hard, he deserves it and good luck to him, but I am more concerned about my team.”

Prediction

It’s hard not to predict anything other than a resounding win for the Red Devils in this one. The teams pride will have been hurt by that defeat to Liverpool before the break and with Moyes keen to win at Old Trafford, I can see this United side being fired up. Palace had a great win against Sunderland and have signed some good players. But this is a huge step up in class for Holloway’s men. Manchester United to win by three or four.

Report: American teenager linked with Manchester United

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The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.

Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”

The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.

Chapecoense announces match against Colombia’s Nacional

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SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]

In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.

Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.

The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.

Aguero left off Argentina starting XI to face Bolivia

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Sao Paolo striker Lucas Pratto will receive a fantastic opportunity on Tuesday when Argentina faces Bolivia in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT travels to Panama in CONCACAF WCQ ]

It just so happens that Pratto’s gain is a major letdown for one of the Premier League’s top strikers. The 28-year-old is tied for second this qualifying campaign for Argentina with two goals.

La Albiceleste have announced their starting lineup ahead of tomorrow’s clash in Bolivia, which features mainstays Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Meanwhile, Aguero — who started in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile on Thursday — is the lone change from manager Edgardo Bauza.

The Copa America runners’ up are currently depleted with a combination of injuries and suspensions. Four players will miss Tuesday’s meeting in La Paz due to suspension, including Gonzalo Higuain, Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia.

Elsewhere, Gabriel Mercado and Emmanuel Mas will each miss the match after sustaining respective hamstring and knee injuries.

Argentina currently sits third in the CONMEBOL table while Bolivia is in danger of elimination with a loss on Tuesday. La Verde have managed just seven points in the first 13 rounds of World Cup qualifying.

Three keys for USMNT against Panama

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Coming off of Friday night’s dominating effort against Honduras, the U.S. Men’s National Team looks for their second win in five nights when Bruce Arena and co. head to Panama.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT goes for second win in Hex on Tuesday ]

Strong performances from players like Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic have USMNT fans buzzing ahead of Tuesday’s clash in Panama City, but there are several questions that lie ahead for Arena as the U.S. goes for its second win in the Hexagonal.

How does Arena cope with injuries?

The only downside of the team’s 6-0 win over Panama on Friday was the aftereffects if the match. John Brooks, Sebastian Lletget, Michael Orozco and Jordan Morris are no longer with the USMNT after sustaining injuries/illnesses, leaving Arena shorthanded as the Stars and Stripes head into the Estadio Rommel Fernández.

While Clint Dempsey’s emphatic national team return will provide Arena with some assurances up front, along with the emergence of Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic, there are some questions in the midfield and defense for the U.S.

Jermaine Jones is available to return from his one-match suspension and could potentially fill the void left by Sebastian Lletget after his injury on Friday. While, Alejandro Bedoya — who replaced Lletget in the Honduras match — will also be in line for a starting spot.

Defensively is where it gets a bit tricky though, as Arena has to make up for an already-depleted backline. There was no DeAndre Yedlin or Fabian Johnson coming into this round of qualifiers, and John Brooks’ release from camp leaves the defense even thinner. Tim Ream appears to be Arena’s next choice to start at centerback with Brooks unavailable, but will he stick with Omar Gonzalez in the center or slide Geoff Cameron back into the middle?

It seems like the latter choice, especially given Cameron’s experience in the central defense, but that would mean Arena has to slot somebody else into the right back position. Graham Zusi has had slight experience in that role as of late, but it could be a bit of a gamble for Arena in another high-stakes match.

Bradley must control the middle once again

Forget Michael Bradley’s superb goal, which lifted the U.S. lead to 2-0 on Friday, it was the captain’s overall performance that is exactly what should be expected from the center midfielder.

Bradley completions/MLSSoccer

In 90 minutes of play against Los Catrachos, Bradley only missed on six passes while also making several successful tackles and recoveries to limit the Honduras attack.

The loss of Lletget is definitely a significant one for the Americans, given his lively movement going both ways. However, LA Galaxy teammate will likely be in line to replace the vibrant midfielder on Tuesday as he returns from a one-match suspension.

In regards to Bradley though, the U.S. veteran is at his best when he is able to move freely throughout the midfield, but Jones’ inclusion could present more of a burden for the Toronto FC player.

Jones is still a very capable midfielder, but he simply doesn’t have the pace to match that of a Lletget, which leaves Bradley more liable for covering ground defensively in front of the backline.

On top of that, the back four will see more changes on Tuesday after Brooks’ exit from the USMNT, making Bradley’s role all the more critical when facing players like Luis Tejada and Gabriel Torres.

[ MORE: CONCACAF qualifiers resume Tuesday afternoon ]

Dempsey/Pulisic bond continues to evolve

It couldn’t have gone much better for the pair on Friday night as Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic were directly involved in five of the game’s six goals.

The budding relationship between the two key attackers though is an intriguing one, and will likely determine just how successful this USMNT can be down the road. At 34, Dempsey is certainly on the back end of his career, however, his effort against Honduras shows just how dangerous the Seattle Sounders man can be, even after missing significant time due to a heart problem.

Meanwhile, Pulisic continues to shine in European with giants Dortmund, appearing both in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. The two likely won’t be together on the international scene for long, perhaps only until the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but the partnership is something to monitor over the next year-plus.

Not only does the duo represent a dangerous one-two punch in the attack but also a changing of the guard. Dempsey has been one of the most talented USMNT players in the nation’s history, and many believe Pulisic has the talent to match or even surpass that of the 55-time goalscorer.

We’ve seen it before when Landon Donovan was phased out of the U.S. squad and Dempsey was essentially handed the reigns of the attack, and this time Pulisic will be doing so with much more time to make an impact. The 18-year-old already has four international goals in 12 appearances, and if he improves on that goalscoring pace the U.S. will be enjoying his presence for many years to come.