33 min: Julian Menz writes with more stripy factoids –
“In Germany, the ’Zebras’ is the colloqial name for MSV Duisburg (they play in blue and white hoops, not sure what QPR/Reading fans might make of that).
“Yet more German football/equine trivia no-one needs, Mönchengladbach are known as ‘the Foals’, and, while we’re on the subject of hoofs, cloven or not, 1FC Köln are known as the ’Billy Goats’, and even have a (replaceable) goat as a mascot, named after a former manager.”
29 min: Now a promising Palace free-kick on the left, though. It’s not far outside the box and I think Bailly made the foul. It’s one of those opportunities they need to make the most of. They don’t, though, as Eze fires it in but the ubiquitous Maguire powers it away.
24 min: Greenwood isn’t too far wide with a deflected shot, so United have a corner. Shaw outswings it but Benteke heads away – and also clears the second ball in. Sterling defensive work from the centre-forward.
18 min: ‘Tis a nice enough start to this game. Palace are getting space when they win the ball back, and countering quickly. United have had two decent sights and Rashford should maybe have done better with his. Fred takes aim now and it takes a deflection or two, Guaita gathering.
13 min: Fine save from Guaita! Shortly after a Rashford ball fizzes across goal, Matic – who has previous for scoring brilliant winners here – cracks one from 25 yards that snicks off McCarthy and is pawed wide! Cavani stabs over from inside the six-yard box following the corner. First big moments for United.
12 min: A marvellous Peter Oh nugget – “In Brazilian football slang, ‘zebra’ is a term for a hugely unexpected result. For example, a five-nil Palace win with Benteke scoring a hat trick, Bruno Fernandes missing two penalties, Solskjaer getting sent off and Hodgson dancing in the technical area would probably be classified as a zebra.”
7 min: Right-sided free-kick for Palace, and Townsend inswings it wickedly. It evades Cahill and those have drifted past unsighted keepers before, but Henderson is watching it all the way. Immediately afterwards, United give the ball away and Benteke – the volleyer supreme at Brighton – tries something similar from 12 yards. This time the result is wildly different.
5 min: It’s not a high-paced start, this. Mainly slow passing from United and the occasional thwarted attempt from Palace to zip upfield. Maguire does well again, this time as Ayew looked to nip around him in the area. Then Shaw is painfully clattered by Ward as they contested a loose Rashford pass. Shaw hobbles up, eventually.
Burnley v Leicester is in its latter stages, which is of consequence to this fixture because it’s currently 1-1 and if Leicester won they’d go above United into second for now. Bite your nails with Barry Glendenning!
All hail the away day kings.Manchester United are yet to come a cropper on the road in this season’s Premier League and here’s a mighty fine chance to make it 14 undefeated trips on the spin. And wouldn’t they love to take it. A goalless draw at Chelsea in their most recent trip to London, a mere three days ago, left them pretty comfortable in the top three for now but something better this time would keep pushing that prospect home. The title is way off now – a victory in this history-laden fixture would narrow the gap to City by a mere 12 points – but this is a season in which finishing runners-up would surely be a considerable success.
Palace are capable of anything though. They are! I was at Brighton last Monday to see them pull off one of the most astonishing smash and grabs I’ve ever seen in the flesh. So while they’re hardly sparkling, and the mumbles of discontent are growing louder, I’m the last person to be ruling them out today. This one could be a scrap – so buckle in!
Send in your emails, tweets and whatever else – and let’s enjoy this 8.15pm (UK) kick-off.