Amid what was a transitional year for Manchester United last term following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the Red Devils suffered some unlikely reverses at the hands of smaller sides emboldened by the old master’s departure.
However, for every West Brom, who eked out a hitherto unimaginable success at Old Trafford in 2013/14, there was a Crystal Palace, still scraping their knees with deference when their turn to face United came around.
Palace were on hand to bolster David Moyes and the club he inherited as they attempted build a brave new future, losing home and away by 2-0 scorelines of supplication.
It wasn’t that they rolled over for just any old top-four denizen though, as under Tony Pulis they sabotaged title bids for Chelsea and Liverpool, the latter in the 3-3 draw some sorrowful Scouse wags still refer to as ‘Crystanbul’.
Nor were they alone, as West Ham and Aston Villa proved.
Both clubs had long grown used to being rolled over for points by the Red Devils and something as small as the departure of the Old Trafford godfather was never going to prove enough to suffuse them with new ambition, for all they too were able to land egg on the faces of several other big teams that season.
The Irons held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge that caused Jose Mourinho to count the term ‘Victorian football’, while Villa downed Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea in 2013/14.
Despite their intransigence elsewhere both were beaten hollow by United, with league aggregates of 5-1 and 7-1 recorded respectively last term.
The Theatre of Dreams outfit are short enough at 33/100 for victory – with the Eagles’ 13/2 and the draw 9/2 – but this is far from the same well-drilled squadron that turned out under Pulis last season.
Given United were able to prevail against the Welshman’s Eagles at Selhurst Park, even when Chelsea and Liverpool were not, then a comfortable win for the Louis van Gaal’s troops is expected on Saturday.
A repeat of the 2-0 scoreline the Red Devils inflicted on Palace twice last term can be backed at 6/1.