The Chalkboard: Misfiring Alex Sorloth could be key to Crystal Palace v Manchester United

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

Crystal Palace travel up to Old Trafford this Saturday to face Manchester United and, while many will see the talismanic Wilfried Zaha as the former England boss’ best hope of getting a result, Roy Hodgson can find his key to success comes from an unlikely source.

On the Chalkboard

Palace are currently in the thick of a pretty tough run of fixtures – having fallen victim to Spurs and Chelsea in recent weeks, the Eagles find themselves on just eight points after 12 games and thus level with Cardiff, who are in the bottom three.

The Selhurst Park outfit can be disappointed to have not come away with anything from the aforementioned clashes as they have put up a good fight although, ultimately, the gap in quality was enough to secure three points each for their fellow London sides.

Particularly against Mauricio Pochettino’s men the perennial strugglers will feel hard done by after Alexander Sorloth missed a great opportunity to snatch a draw at the death when he fired straight at Hugo Lloris.

The 2012/13 Championship play-off winners are finding goals hard to come by this season, so it remains unclear as to who is best fit to lead the line but, with Jose Mourinho set to deploy a team of giants, the choice becomes a little more clear-cut.

Crystal Palace's Alexander Sorloth dribbles away from Manchester United's Nemanja Matic

Sorloth’s strength

Sorloth and loanee Jordan Ayew remain the only fit, natural strikers available for selection and, despite their polarised success in the international break – the former missed a series of sitters while the latter netted a brace – the Norwegian is the smart choice for this weekend’s fixture.

At 6ft 4in, the number nine has the stature to hold up the play in Christian Benteke’s absence and can be crucial in starting the Eagles’ counter attacks. Without a focal point up front they struggled against Spurs as they were unable to find their danger men on the break, however the former Midtjylland man brings a physical presence that allows for quick, long balls.

By pairing the energetic Andros Townsend up front with Sorloth, Palace have a nice balance that also allows for the terrorising Zaha to be deployed on the left – he is one of the most dangerous players in the league when allowed to run at a full-back.

If Hodgson wants to get anything out of this match, he should resist the temptation of picking Ayew based on international form and instead give Sorloth the rare opportunity to start and regain some confidence.

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