Three things we learned from Manchester United’s dominant victory at home to Fulham


In the early minutes of the game, the visitors were showing that they meant business as they looked active on and off the ball. Since the arrival of Claudio Ranieri to Craven Cottage a couple of weeks ago, the side are now showing more stability in the back whilst also pressing and creating chances here and there. Once the goals start to roll in constantly, so will the valuable points and the wins.

However, it was the home side who took the lead and on the 13th minute mark, as Ashley Young completed an impressive solo goal from the left flank as his shot went flying into the top right corner of the net. Just over ten minutes later, United doubled their lead through Juan Mata, who completed off a really good play which included the vital involvement of Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku.

Just a couple of minutes before the half-time break, the hosts managed to score another goal and it came from a quick corner routine which allowed Lukaku to score and finally break his Old Trafford goal drought. Many of the Red Devils will be hoping that goal will be a confidence booster for the Belgian international, especially ahead of the Valencia and Liverpool fixtures that are coming up.

The second half of the fixture was completely opposite to the first half, where the game was done and dusted, which led the hosts to play with less urgency and intensity whilst the visitors were looking to gain more time on the ball. Due to this, Fulham were finally able to produce more passes in the final third and were also allowed to have their midfield and attack further up the pitch.

Fulham were given a huge opportunity to pick up a consolation goal from the penalty spot, which was well-taken by Aboubakar Kamara, who sent David De Gea the wrong way. Though, things went from bad to worse for the West London club, as Andre Zambo Anguissa picked up his second yellow card of the match and Ranieri’s side went down to ten men for the final 22 minutes of the game.

With eight minutes left until the full-time whistle, Marcus Rashford deservingly got his goal and also the side’s fourth goal of the afternoon, which summed up the fine performance many saw from the youngster yesterday. In the end, Manchester United will be really glad to complete a perfect display from start till end after a long time whilst Fulham will have to really improve if they want to stay up.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Diogo Dalot has instantly become a fans favourite

Manchester United have had issues with playing out from the back as well as ongoing problems with utilising full-backs for them to be a dangerous threat going forward. On the other hand, Diogo Dalot has recently entered the side’s starting line-up and is already showing what he can offer to the team on and off the ball, which cannot be easily stated for the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.

Although he is yet to show his composure and quality defensively, the 19-year-old is evidently proving that he has the dribbling and crossing ability to unlock the oppositions that come to Old Trafford and sit deep in their own half. The Red Devils finally look to have an impressive gem that has the huge and key potential to make the right-back position his own for next five to ten years.

Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are now undroppable

Yesterday, United’s midfield and attack showed they can play football on both sides of the pitch and can also do that at a fast and speedy level. From pressing as a solid unit high up the pitch to attacking down the flanks on both areas of the field, the evidence and proof was simply there that the side have not forgotten how to play football it’s just that they lack urgency and actual desire.

Focusing back onto the match, both Ander Herrera and Juan Mata played an influential part in helping the side to a convincing and dominant victory. With the way how both Spaniards play around each other as well as the chemistry and understanding they have with the rest of the team, they must continue to play and remain in the line-up if the manager wants to go on a winning run.

The Red Devils finally complete a thrashing at Old Trafford

Over the last year, Manchester United have not shown the ideal aggression and ruthlessness against the weaker sides, which is one of the reasons to why they sometime drop points to the newly promoted clubs. On top of that, the lack of consistency and planning going into the final third of the pitch, is why the team tend to end the season with a low goal difference compared to the rest.

On the other hand, the four goals scored yesterday against Fulham is actual evidence that this Manchester United side can attack effectively and that they can take their chances. Although the supporters have not seen four goals scored at home in the league on a regular basis, the recent result would make them believe and feel that this can hopefully now happen week in and out.

Chicharito making his mark for West Ham

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Javier Hernandez has started more league matches in the last week than he had in the entirety of this season combined. It wasn’t so long ago that he’d been linked with a move away from the London Stadium, but it now seems unimaginable that he wouldn’t be in the starting line up.

The build up of fixtures was likely to be a factor in the rotation which played a part in reinstating him to the starting line up, but his performances have ensured it hasn’t resulted in him coming back out of it. With the Hammers currently missing the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Andriy Yarmolenko and long term absentee Manuel Lanzini, Chicharito has truly stepped up to help his side. December was coined as the most important period of West Ham’s season and the Mexican has been integral in making sure that period has begun with success.

The first match came away against an in form Newcastle United, in which Hernandez was handed his first start since a draw with Leicester in October. He opened the scoring just 11 minutes into the game at St. James’ Park, as he latched onto a pinpoint ball in from Robert Snodgrass and played it first time past Martin Dúbravka. It was the type of goal which the Mexican has become so well known for throughout his career. Having missed a few chances, he got his second of the game when he got onto the end of Arnoutovic’s header, raced forward and calmly slotted the ball away at the near post, getting the second of the Hammers’ three goals.

Chicharito started again in the next game, which came against Cardiff City. He may not have scored but  the striker was a constant threat for the 64 minutes he was on the pitch. West Ham managed three goals again, as they earned their first back to back victories since January 2017.

West Ham were desperate to keep their run going against Crystal Palace and Hernandez helped to ensure that happened. The Hammers had gone 1-0 down in the sixth minute, but as Andy Carroll replaced the injured Lucas Perez they got into the game a lot more. After Snodgrass had drawn the sides level with his first league goal for West Ham, Hernandez was able to put the Hammers in front.

It was a goal which highlighted his poacher’s instincts for all to see. Felipe Anderson struck a free kick to Wayne Hennessy’s left. The Welsh stopper was able to palm it away from the goal, but while everyone in the wall had been focused on trying to stop the initial hit, Hernandez ran behind them and into the perfect position to get the rebound, striking the ball into the roof of the net. This goal helped West Ham to their third win in a row, something they hadn’t achieved for over two years.

With the games coming thick and fast, this is the perfect time for the Mexican to find form, especially with Arnautovic currently out injured. He’s always been able to get goals no matter where he’s been in his career, but having struggled since joining the club in 2017 there were fears that things wouldn’t work out for Hernandez in East London. Manuel Pellegrini has seemingly managed to get the best out of him and his team mates though. With an impressive run of games behind him, everyone involved with West Ham will hope this form continues against Fulham on Saturday.


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Victor Lindelof is Manchester United’s best central defender but needs a partner to become the finished article


The supporters of a football club will always be protective when it comes to criticism of their own players. Generally expecting a positive picture of their rising stars within the English media, they can also be very quick to reveal their opinions and thoughts on individuals from other clubs. Meanwhile, now and again there is always a player who can be regarded as overrated or underrated by the press on a weekly basis. Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof is an example of one those types of players.

It’s not to highlight that Lindelof has not been an impressive signing for Manchester United, but more to the fact he has become an easy player to blame for when the side concede a goal in the league. With Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo only featuring recently for the Red Devils so far this campaign, the Swedish international has adapted to the Premier League with ease and is continuing to impress everyone week by week.

Although Lindelof had a rough and forgettable start to his early first months in England, he is now showing that he is the ideal ball-playing centre-back that Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United badly needs. Currently on the sidelines reportedly for the rest of the month with a thigh injury, it can easily be stated that the side are now having issues of playing out from the back without his key presence.

Meanwhile, there are still a number of areas for the player to improve on before he can be regarded as one of the best centre-backs within the league. Along with his ability to play out from the back and his intelligence of reading the game effectively, he needs to start dominating the physical strikers in the air and off the ball, as he can become a very easy player to target in United’s backline.

Despite the little amount of errors he has made, it has probably not cost Manchester United any points in the league, but if they had done so, a lot of pundits would have been his back, similar to what the likes of David Luiz, Jan Vertonghen and Shkodran Mustafi have experienced over the last couple of months. However, this has become a normal factor for centre-backs, as they are criticised for the small errors they produce but hardly receive the appreciation for when they perform well.

Without a doubt, Lindelof is the type defender who likes to be committed and wants to take risks, which can also involve doing more than just defending and helping the team to go forward in attack. Whilst playing at the half-way line as a centre-back, it leaves you clearly open to get caught out on the counter-attack, which is something that the 24-year-old needs to improve on as time goes on.

Once the side actually have an effective gameplan to utilise on a regular basis or a coached by the manager to develop and improve their skills, whether that is with Mourinho or not, then Lindelof along with the team’s defence will become a dominant and solid force that will be very hard to beat.

Overall, since his move from Portugal, Victor Lindelof has already been regarded as one of the most consistent centre-backs within the squad by many Premier League pundits and the Manchester United supporters. Once Mourinho himself can work out who is the right partner to play along with the Swede at the back, it would surely leave the Red Devils with an unbreakable partnership at the heart of defence which hasn’t been witnessed since the days of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

Crystal Palace continue to drift as West Ham extend winning run

West Ham United won their third Premier League game in a week on Saturday afternoon, coming from a goal down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at the London Stadium. It is a result which takes Manuel Pellegrini’s men into the top half of the table for the first time this season, while Palace are now looking nervously over their shoulder having slipped to 16th spot in the standings.

Following Tuesday’s dire display in a 3-1 loss to arch-rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, Roy Hodgson would have been looking for a reaction here. The Eagles could not have wished for a better start, as James McArthur raced onto James Tomkins’ flick-on from a free-kick to prod the ball past Lukasz Fabianski and into the West Ham net. Both teams had chances before half-time, but Palace held on to their one-goal advantage and went into the interval in a winning position – the first time they have done so away from home since the 1-0 triumph over Huddersfield Town in the middle of September.

Hodgson presumably instructed his team to keep things tight at the back and look for openings on the counter-attack, but – not for the first time this week – Palace completely collapsed and shipped three goals in a 20-minute period. First, Robert Snodgrass converted with a fine left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area, before Javier Hernandez capitalised on a Wayne Hennessey mistake to turn the loose ball home after Felipe Anderson’s free-kick was saved. Anderson himself stepped up to score the hosts’ third of the afternoon, brilliantly bending his strike into the far post after being afforded too much time by the Palace rearguard.

Jeffrey Schlupp may have given the visitors a semblance of hope when he headed home a Max Meyer cross in the 76th minute, but the damage had already been done by that stage of proceedings. Palace pushed for an equaliser without ever really coming close to finding out, forcing the under-fire Hodgson to contemplate a 10th defeat of the campaign. Fulham are the only side who have lost more Premier League games this term, and relegation suddenly looks like a very real possibility for a club who should be doing much better.

Hodgson will inevitably come under increasing pressure should Palace fail to beat Leicester City next Saturday, and some of the frustration with the veteran boss is understandable. Hodgson is often too slow to make in-game changes when plan A is not bearing fruit, a charge which was also levelled at him during Palace’s successful end to the 2017/18 campaign. Some have also taken issue with his tendency towards caution, which has at times seen the south Londoners punished after failing to increase their lead.

Manuel Pellegrini

At the same time, though, it is possible to have a great deal of sympathy with the former England boss. Those who called for Hodgson to make wholesale changes after the Brighton debacle clearly did not appreciate how little the Palace manager has to work with outside of his starting XI; Jason Puncheon, Alexander Sorloth and Jordan Ayew are the go-to attacking options on the bench at present, but no member of that trio is Premier League quality. Fielding Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up front in a 4-4-2 formation certainly is not ideal, but Hodgson clearly feels he has no other option given the paucity of quality in reserve.

Palace are now in their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, which makes the lack of strength in depth difficult to defend. A substantial wage bill prevented the Eagles from splashing the cash in the summer, even as Yohan Cabaye – previously one of the club’s highest earners – departed for Al-Nasr in the United Arab Emirates. A failure to implement a long-term recruitment strategy in recent years has come back to haunt Palace; new signings have usually had very little resale value, meaning there was always likely to come a point when the wage bill needed to be trimmed. Since winning promotion from the Championship in 2013, Palace’s decision-making has been too reactive, with managers largely appointed because of their fire-fighting abilities and players acquired with a short-term focus.

Hodgson is certainly not blameless as far as the Eagles’ recent results are concerned, but the malaise runs far deeper than the man in the dugout. At present Palace feel like a club lacking in direction and leadership, and if they are not careful it could result in relegation back to the second tier at the end of the campaign.

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Richarlison, Tosun and Everton’s need for a new striker

Everton striker Richarlison Tosun January transfer window

If Everton needed any proof that a striker should be top of their wish list in January then the past week proved it.

It’s hard not to imagine that had they had a top striker in their starting eleven against Liverpool and Newcastle then both games would have turned out differently. Instead, frustration reigned once more. It is a familiar feeling for Marco Silva’s team this season. The lack of a top-level striker has been felt from day one.

Romelu Lukaku may be long gone but his absence is still sorely felt. Lukaku was never universally loved at Goodison Park. Be it his lack of mobility, terrible first touch or constant eyeing up of moves to bigger clubs, there was always something to criticise him for.  Continue reading

Manchester United’s talking points ahead of Fulham clash

It has been a few difficult months for José Mourinho’s team, but their performance against high-flying Arsenal struck a chord with the Manchester United fans that had been missing for some time.

There was passion and commitment shown by the players, plus entertainment. There wasn’t a ridiculously high amount of quality on offer by both teams, but the intensity that has been lacking in the Premier League was present.

Here are a few talking points from United’s latest fixture moving forward:

Diogo Dalot’s starting debut

The young Portuguese right back made his first start for Manchester United in the Premier League against Arsenal, in which there were mixed reviews.

Dalot impressed with his runs down the right flank, trying to take on players and get the ball into the box. The one attribute that clearly sticks out is his ability to successfully beat his first man with the cross – something United fans have forgotten existed.

The former Porto starlet was caught out throughout the match from his more experienced counterpart Sead Kolasinac, but Dalot stood his ground and recovered. There is certainly a lot more to come, but against top opposition who were 19 games unbeaten, Dalot made a good account of himself to the Old Trafford crowd.

Dalot is only 19-years-old and will improve with every game he plays in. Mourinho must stick with him and allow him to develop in the Premier League. The signs are promising.

Marcos Rojo gives United bite 

It seems as if Marcos Rojo features more on the injury table than he does for Manchester United in recent seasons, but the Argentinean defender did make a rare appearance against Arsenal to mark this week’s comeback.

Rojo is an impulse defender and one for taking risks, most of them not being calculated. Although he was caught off guard that gifted Arsenal the lead in the second half, Rojo provided United with a bit of bite that has been badly missed.

The central defender’s performance was topsy-turvy, as they usually are, but at least he gives the team some sense of commitment and urgency to get up the pitch. His tackling is as absurd as he is, but Rojo was welcomed back by the Man United faithful.

Eric Bailly should not be left out

If there was one talking point after the fixture against the Gunners, it was the fact that Eric Bailly had been needlessly rotting on the sidelines for far too long. Most fans can recognise Bailly’s importance to the team, but it took Mourinho more than enough time to come to the same conclusion.

The Ivory Coast international, even with months on the bench, slotted right back into the first-team and made some crucial interceptions. He kept Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang largely at bay for the 90 minutes, which was no easy task given the Gabonese is the league’s leading goalscorer.

Mourinho simply has to involved Bailly in future games. While fans are not privy to what goes on behind closed doors, and there might have been issues in the past, the Portuguese manager simply has to put those inconsistencies behind him and allow his best defender to do his job.

Anthony Martial strikes again

The Frenchman has come to Manchester United’s rescue on more than one occasion this season. His seven goals in the Premier League have helped the Red Devils retain some sort of dignity, although his teammates aren’t pulling their weight in comparison.

Martial’s form continues to grow and he now has a scoring return rate of 122 minutes per-goal in the league – better than the likes of Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane and Aubameyang.

Without Martial’s goals, United would be in an even direr state of affairs compared to where they are now. This weekend, against Fulham, United have the chance to put on a show for the United crowd and should do so against the lowest-ranked team in the division.

Through Martial, United have a forward player that is so confident with the ball at his feet. The Frenchman dazzles past defenders and has the agility to shift his body weight and deceive his opposition.

The Red Devils simply must get Martial in the game and allow the France international to do what he does best: score.

Arsenal must continue their rebuild in January window

Unai Emery can be satisfied with his first few months in England. Arriving at Arsenal in the summer, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss was faced with one of the biggest jobs in Premier League history. Somehow he had to untangle an entire legacy, the legacy of his predecessor Arsene Wenger. He hasn’t done that yet, but progress has been made.

Indeed, Arsenal are at least on an upward trajectory again. They are playing well and Emery has gone some way to instilling a winning mentality at the Emirates Stadium. As demonstrated against Spurs in last weekend’s North London derby, and to a lesser extent against Manchester United on Wednesday night, the Gunners are capable of competing with the elite.


Nobody was really sure what to expect from Arsenal. Their summer business raised eyebrows, spending money, but not the sort of money usually splurged by the top teams in the Premier League. Now, their business looks to have been shrewd, with Lucas Torreira giving Arsenal the sort of bite they have missed in midfield for years. Sokratis Papastathopoulos has nailed down a place at centre back, while Bernd Leno and Matteo Guendouzi are now considered first team figures.

But if Arsenal are to continue their improvement, they must pick up their rebuild again when the January transfer window opens. Emery has found a starting lineup that can carry out his instructions, but that isn’t to say that they can’t get better. Arsenal’s top four place still isn’t certain. It’s entirely possible that they could fall away in the second half of the season, leaving them locked out of the Champions League for a third straight year.

Most of the transfer speculation surrounding the club at present concerns players potentially leaving the club. Before his season-ending injury, it was thought that Danny Welbeck would depart the Emirates in January. Aaron Ramsey is another who has been linked with an exit, with the Welsh midfielder’s contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Then there’s the Mesut Ozil saga. The German playmaker has fallen out of favour in recent weeks, with suggestions that Emery no longer sees him as a part of his long term plans. It’s unlikely that Ozil will leave mid-season, but that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill churning out conjecture.

Arsenal need to buy players, though. They could still do with another body in midfield, especially if Ramsey is to leave soon. Lyon’s Tanguy N’Dombele would fit the bill. They could also use a playmaker if Ozil is to depart, and so Isco, whose future at Real Madrid is far from certain, would be a blockbuster addition.

Emery is the coach and he has done well with what he has this season. Now, he needs the club, people like Sven Mislintat, to continue the rebuild in the transfer market. He needs more to work with.

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The Premier League has turned into a two horse race between Manchester City and Liverpool

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What, where when? Just when we thought a few weeks ago that there were at least four teams capable of winning the Premier League, everything has all of a sudden opened up. After the midweek games which was the 15th round of matches in England two teams have emerged as possible title winners. The first and in top place is champions Manchester City, the second is Liverpool who have yet to win a Premier League title and have not won England’s top division since 1990.

So how did Chelsea and Tottenham suddenly fall away from contention? Maurizio Sarri’s side have won just 1 game in their past four matches and yet up until the 12th game of the season he had an unbeaten side at his disposal. But first they were exposed by Tottenham at Wembley, easily losing 3-1. They bounced back against Fulham in the west London derby only to lose to Wolves, which was seen as a shock result given how poor Wolves have been in the past month.

Chelsea are now 10 points behind City and are clinging onto 4th place only on goal difference to Arsenal. Tottenham in beating Southampton are back in 3rd place after being dislodged in the top 4 over the weekend when they lost to eternal nemesis Arsenal by 4-2. But Spurs have bounced back well. But they are still evidently a few levels below City and Liverpool, they have 33 points and are 8 points behind the league leaders.

All of this means of course that the league has turned into a two horse race before Christmas, although the flurry of fixtures could well shake that up. Manchester City will play Chelsea away next and a win for Pep Guardiola’s side will surely signal the end of Chelsea’s title hopes. Games follow against Everton, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Southampton. It is fair to think that from all of those matches City could expect 13 points which would put them on 54 before the year is out.

As for Liverpool who are the romantics choice of league winners giving how it has been 28 years since they won the league they will have to play Bournemouth, Manchester United, Wolves, Newcastle and Arsenal. The Reds seem to have a tougher run and could end up with 11 points which would put them on 50.

It is possible then that only 4 points will separate the two teams. And you can guess which fixture comes after the new year- that’s right these two teams will meet and it will be Manchester City who will be at home in what could be a big step to deciding the title. Still there are plenty of games to be played before then and like a typical Premier League campaign there will be plenty of twists and turns that is for sure.

José Mourinho’s negativity is not welcome at Manchester United

To say it’s been a difficult season so far for Manchester United is an understatement of magnificent proportions. For a club that is used to challenging for major honours, sitting in seventh place, eight points from fourth after 14 games, United’s fans are wondering where it all went wrong.

It’s not as if the club possess bad players. Quite the opposite, in fact. Mourinho has signed 11 first-team players since arriving in 2016, including Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku who cost a combined £165 million in transfer fees.

The signing to trump all in terms of failures so far has been Alexis Sánchez, who was brought in from Arsenal last January. The Chilean was supposed to invigorate United’s front line and add a different dimension to their stagnating attack, but has yet to live up to expectation. Spending £500,000 per-week on wages now looks to be a massive mistake and one that Manchester City are thankful they did not commit to.

There is no sense of consistency in United’s game, especially after conceding two goals against Southampton last weekend in quick succession. A team that has been nothing short of shambolic for the past few months; and yet they found a way to carve United apart with ease to find the back of the net. Such are Mourinho’s woes, this is now the new reality.

While the team is suffering this season and the players have not performed to the standard that is expected of them, Mourinho’s incessant negativity around the club is certainly not easing matters. Fans have had enough of his negative football being portrayed on the pitch, and certainly don’t want to have to hear him profess how it’s not his fault.

Mourinho’s go-to tactic has always been to blame the situation around him and remind people of the major honours he has won in his glittering career. No one cant take that immense success away from him, but it’s tiresome to hear Mourinho separate himself from the current mess that is being played out in public for all to see.

It’s clear that the Portuguese coach wants to isolate himself in order to save a reputation that has quickly been declining ever since his last season in charge at Chelsea. At this moment in time, it appears that the £14 million payoff that Mourinho is due if United decide to sack him is too much for even the self-proclaimed ‘richest club in the world’.

So, unless matters deteriorate even further, which would not be a total surprise, Manchester United are likely to keep with him until the end of the season. Fans are not expecting miracles, but they do long for football that entertains them.

The constant leaks coming from the football club is not helping, either. There is no better embodiment of Manchester United post-Ferguson than to see how much information is constantly being played out in the public. Ferguson used to keep a tight control over what was and what wasn’t said, but Mourinho simply doesn’t possess the same authoritative figure that can demand similar.

This time it was the Portuguese manager explaining to the first-team players that Pogba is a ‘virus’, just before they took on Southampton. It is bemusing as to how that can help any set of players go out and win a match, but this relationship, or lack of, has been bubbling away since February, when Mourinho asked Pogba to play a lot deeper against Tottenham at Wembley.

Since then, their relationship has worsened and there have been many notable moments played out for all to see which says they don’t get on. However, if Mourinho wants to survive in this job, he has to start building bridges and stop ostracising players, just as he has done ever since he step foot in Old Trafford.

There is going to be little chance for major honours this season given the level of competition and how far off the Red Devils are. But what the fans want to see, at the very least, for the remaining part of the season, is some high level football that entertains them.

They might not get what they want in celebrating success, but if Mourinho cannot deliver some entertainment at the supposed ‘Theatre of Dreams’, his time will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

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Dismal display sees Crystal Palace fall to defeat against arch-rivals Brighton

Ask any Crystal Palace supporter what their favourite game of this decade has been and there is a good chance they will refer you to the 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in May 2013. That underdog triumph came in the second leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals, as Wilfried Zaha’s brace sent Palace to Wembley and their arch-rivals out.

Palace have visited the Amex Stadium twice since then, drawing 0-0 in the Premier League this time last year and losing 2-1 in the third round of the 2017/18 FA Cup. That defeat was a disappointment, of course, but both sides made changes to their starting XIs and the narrow margin of victory meant the evening did not go down as an embarrassment. The same, however, cannot be said for Tuesday night’s encounter on the south coast.

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