Man Utd face Crystal Palace on the last day of the season and there is unlikely to be much excitement among either set of fans. Man Utd are guaranteed to finish sixth and will have to win the Europa League final if they are to claim a place in next season’s Champions League. They will rest players to keep them fresh for that vital game. Crystal Palace are guaranteed to avoid relegation and finish in the bottom half of the table. They have nothing to play for either in this game, and it could be a drab affair.
The presence of Wayne Rooney could brighten things up. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured and Marcus Rashford has been rested ahead of the Europa League final, so Rooney – who has spent most of the season on the bench – has returned to the starting 11 for the last couple of games. Then Man Utd is expected to leave the club this summer after opportunities for playing time have become seriously reduced under Jose Mourinho. If so, it would bring to an end a remarkable career at Old Trafford, which has seen him surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time record scorer, win the Champions League and accumulate an impressive trophy haul. Age has seemingly caught up with him and he has struggled to maintain standards he set in previous years, so he could be set to end his time with the Red Devils and move to China or the US for one last payday before retiring.
His return to the starting lineup has coincided with the end of Man Utd’s 25-game unbeaten run as they have suffered back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and Tottenham. It is hardly surprising as they have been resting players and holding back ahead of the crucial Europa League final. But it did not stop Rooney scoring against Tottenham in the 2-1 defeat last time out, and he will be a threat to Palace in this game. Rooney to score at any time is 7/4 with Ladbrokes and Coral and that looks an interesting bet. Palace’s defenders are not exactly blessed with pace and athleticism, so he should get a couple of chances, and his finishing ability is still strong.
Palace have conceded 61 goals in 37 games this season and will probably concede again here. Going forwards they have been good though, scoring more than any other team in the bottom half and a couple of teams in the top half, and that is what has kept them up. The likes of Wilfried Zaha and Cristian Benteke will relish the chance to test their mettle against some reserve Man Utd defenders, Zaha particularly after his Old Trafford career ended in failure. They may well score and the 7/9 on offer at 888 Sport looks a good option here.
It is difficult to see Sam Allardyce’s side winning this one, even if they are playing against a team distracted by a far more important game in the not too distant future. Utd won 2-1 in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park and Man Utd should get another result here. William Hill, Sky Bet, Bet Victor and Stan James among other green listed bookmakers are all offering even money on a Man Utd win and that looks interesting. Utd’s second string will have a perfect opportunity to show why they deserve to be at Old Trafford next season and not be sold in the summer, and Rooney will have an opportunity to go out with a bang by notching another goal at the Theatre of Dreams. Against an unmotivated Crystal Palace side already on their summer holidays, that could well be enough to see Man Utd to victory.