A big game for both clubs. Crystal Palace will be looking to win their first major trophy in the history of the club. United, on the other hand, will want to end their 12 year wait for an F.A. Cup, which would see them winning their first major trophy since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, which could prove to be Van Gaal’s last game at the club.
Could history repeat itself for the Reds, who, 26 years ago, beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay of the F.A Cup final, after the first tie ended in a 3-3 draw?
After falling short of top four, Van Gaal will be hoping he can win his first piece of silverware, since arriving in 2014, although it might not be enough, with fresh rumours about the arrival of Jose Mourinho flying around.
Despite what most would call an average season, the Reds will have the chance to win their first major trophy, since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012/13 season.
After the 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford, Van Gaal expressed the importance of a club like United winning a ‘title’. “When you win silverware it is always important, because a qualification is not a title. A title is an FA Cup, a championship”.
However, if Van Gaal loses his job come the end of the season, it will be down to the fact that United failed to get into a Champions League spot. The Reds finished the season fifth place, after losing out on goal difference to rivals, Man City.
United have won the F.A Cup 11 times, but will be going into the game this afternoon, having not won it in 12 years, with their last victory coming in 2004 against Millwall, where they won 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Reds have beaten the likes of Sheffield United, Derby County, Shrewsbury Town, West Ham United and Everton in the semi-finals to progress to the final. They will be hoping they can go that one step further, and lift the F.A Cup this afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
United will be welcoming back Belgium powerhouse, Marouane Fellaini. The midfielder has now served his three game ban, and will be looking to start, after playing a pivotal role, which helped lead United to the final.
Van Gaal has confirmed Matteo Darmian, Marcus Rojo and Morgan Schneiderlin, who all missed out against Bournemouth, will be fit to play. However, young Dutchman, Memphis Depay, has not been included in the squad, which is no surprise, given his poor season.
Luke Shaw, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Adnan Januzaj continue to be unavailable for the Reds.
Alan Pardew will be looking to make it third time lucky, after losing out to Man United and Liverpool in his previous F.A. Cup finals.
The Palace boss was part of the team that lost to United in 1990, and although Pardew has been playing it down, he’ll want to make sure he rectifies that this afternoon.
His second loss came as a West Ham manager in 2006, where he lost 3-1 to Liverpool on penalties, after the game finished 3-3.
Despite finishing 15th and securing Premier League football for next season, the Eagles go into the final in poor form, having only won 2 of their last 10 games, coming against Stoke and relegated side, Norwich City.
However, form is irrelevant in cup games, and the Eagles have shown that in the F.A. Cup this season, having had to overcome Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Reading and Watford, respectively, to get to the final.
Wilfried Zaha is expected to be back in the squad, after missing the last three games. The return of the winger will be a massive boost for Alan Pardew and the Palace fans, who they voted Player of the Year this season.
Welsh midfielder Joe Ledley will not take part, but Bakary Sako will return.
Despite Dwight Gayle’s two goals against Stoke City, Conner Wickham will most likely start the game, after the English striker played a pivotal role in the semi-final against Watford, scoring the winner, which finished 2-1 to Palace.
Crystal Palace (last five games)
Man United (last five games)
Palace possible starting line-up:
Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Cabaye, McArthur, Puncheon; Bolasie, Wickham, Zaha
Man United possible starting line-up:
De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick, Rooney, Fellaini; Lingard, Rashford, Martial
The last game between the two teams ended in a 2-0 victory to United at Old Trafford, courtesy of an own goal from Damien Delaney and a thunderbolt from Matteo Darmian.
Although Pardew’s side are going into the game as underdogs, finals are finals, and anything could happen on the day. The Eagles will be looking to win their first major trophy in the history of the club. United, on the other hand, have been in pretty good form of late, despite failing to finish in the top four. The Reds will be want to finish their campaign strongly, after an underwhelming league season.
Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Manchester United