Michael Olise scored perhaps the free kick of the season to give Crystal Palace a share of the points and a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
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Manchester United led 1-0 from the 44th minute onward, after Bruno Fernandes hammered the ball past Vicente Guaita to open the scoring. The Red Devils had a handful of key chances to double their lead and put the game to bed, but their finishing was poor (just four of 15 shots on target).
Erik ten Hag’s side so nearly escaped with the three points, though, as David de Gea made three saves with the score still 1-0 in the second half. That was, until Olise uncorked his stunning strike from nearly 25 yards out at a tight angle well wide of the goal.
De Gea covered a large amount of ground as he scrambled across the face of goal and dove high toward his left-hand post, but the ball dipped under the crossbar at the last possible moment. De Gea could get nowhere near it, as the 21-year-old midfielder wheeled away and south London erupted.
A victory would have sent Manchester United (39 points – 3rd place) above two-time defending champions and rivals Manchester City, thanks in part to their derby triumph on Saturday, but instead the draw leaves them level on points and the blue half of the city on top via goal difference (+28 to +8). Crystal Palace (23 points), meanwhile, remain 12th in the Premier League table, now just five points off the top half of the table and eight points clear of the relegation zone.
What we learned from Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
Man United’s spine: from fatal flaw, to foundation
For years, Manchester United’s top priority during transfer windows should have been a world-class defensive midfielder to make the side more stable and consistent on both sides of possession. Yet, for years, the directors ignored the no. 6 altogether and signed one flashy, expensive attacker after another. Some of those stars scored goals, some didn’t, but one constant was that Man United’s defense being overrun by greater, equal and lesser opposition.
Now, with Casemiro camped at the base of midfield, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez forming a solid partnership at center back behind him, and Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen pulling the strings in front of the Brazilian, Manchester United’s spine is the best it’s been since the side was built around Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson departed in 2013, Manchester United have been, with the brief exception of the “good times” of Jose Mourinho’s tenure, been very easy to play against and through, and to beat. That is no longer the case, with the Red Devils’ spine now becoming the side’s strength.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United reaction
Erik ten Hag, on the result…
“We dropped two points. When you’re winning with two minutes to go…
“They don’t create anything except one which was a corner and this one was a free-kick from far. You don’t expect to drop points. We have to invest more to get that second goal and then not be in that situation that a lucky moment costs you two points.
“We were 1-0 up. In the second half, we had a lot of space to kill them and go for the second. I never saw we really went for the second goal.
“It’s difficult to say [why]. I have to criticize my team. Go for the second. Bruno and Rashy on the wings, Garnacho, a lot of creativity, speed and power, and McTominay with penetration behind.
How to watch Crystal Palace vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Palace have looked a little sluggish in attack in recent weeks as they’ve lost four of their last five games and have failed to score in all four of those defeats. Patrick Vieira has all of his attacking options available and it seems like he just isn’t getting the right players out there together. Palace need a big win to kick-start their season because teams below them are starting to pick up victories and the Eagles no longer look comfortable in midtable. Vicente Guaita was excellent against Chelsea and Wilfried Zaha needs to recapture his brilliant early-season form.
United are surging and Marcus Rashford is the man of the moment. He has scored seven goals in his last six games and has been on fire since returning from the World Cup. Casemiro is dominating midfield, Bruno Fernandes is dictating play and Luke Shaw has been a revelation as a left-sided center back. This is the best United have looked in a long time and Erik ten Hag knows they still have a lot of improvement left in the tank. That is the most pleasing thing for United when it comes to this long winning run. They haven’t got close to top gear yet but they’re finding a way to grind out wins and look so solid defensively.
Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options
James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson remain out injured, while Joachim Andersen is a doubt after picking up a knock against Chelsea. That could mean USMNT defender Chris Richards coming in for his first start in the Premier League.
Our starting XI for tonight 👊
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 18, 2023
Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options
Donny van de Beek is ruled out for the season after his knee injury, while Jadon Sancho remains out but he is working on his recovery. Red-hot Marcus Rashford should shake off a hip issue, while Diogo Dalot is not being risked as he recovers from a thigh injury. Wout Weghorst could make his United debut after his loan move from Burnley. We are about to see how strong this United squad is as Erik ten Hag will need to rotate a little, and especially ahead of their huge game against Arsenal on Sunday.
🚨 Tonight's team news is in — and there's a United debut for Wout Weghorst! 🇳🇱#MUFC || #CRYMUN
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 18, 2023