Is Michael Oliver booking a plus for Man Utd at Crystal Palace?

Think back to February 15 months ago and Manchester United were collecting their first away win of 2014 at the fifth time of asking at Crystal Palace.

This was also against a Palace outfit that were high on confidence after three consecutive Selhurst Park victories to press on in their successful quest to avoid relegation.

Things are much different for both at present, with the Eagles losing three on the bounce after a four-game winning sequence to surge clear of the drop zone, while Man Utd have an identical record, albeit they have failed to even score in their trio of recent defeats.

Given their symmetrical records, the obvious logic would be to back the draw at 13/5, which would take the Red Devils a fair step closer to achieving their goal of bouncing back into the Premier League’s top four.

Man Utd are the 5/6 favourites to collect all three points and the return of Michael Carrick to the base of their midfield is a major positive to this possibility.

Carrick has only been on the losing side once in 17 club appearances this season and the win percentage of Louis van Gaal’s men rises by 30% when he is available.

However, the million dollar question is whether the referee appointment of Michael Oliver will have a bigger say on the outcome than the availability of Carrick?

Oliver was the man in the middle for last season’s 2-0 triumph at Selhurst Park, but securing victories when he has been in charge has proved a bridge to far for Man Utd since.

The Manchester derby late last season ended in a 3-0 home defeat, another 1-0 reverse followed at the Etihad this campaign, followed by a 1-1 draw at Stoke and the well-publicised 2-1 FA Cup Old Trafford loss to Arsenal.

Red cards have also been shown to Chris Smalling and Angel Di Maria in Oliver’s three run-ins with Man Utd in 2014/15.

Meanwhile, he officiated Crystal Palace’s recent 2-1 home victory over Man City and taking all of this into account, the home double over Manchester’s finest for Alan Pardew’s men looks on the cards.

Crystal Palace can be backed at 10/3 to beat the Red Devils, while it is 6/1 that they win to nil and extend the scoring woes of Wayne Rooney and co to four matches.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.