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Top-six finish in Man Utd’s lowered sights after Palace win

| 24.02.2014

A 2-0 win at Crystal Palace may seem scant cause for wild celebrations, but the significance of Premier League champions Manchester United’s first away win in 2014 may be immeasurable as David Moyes’ men look to finish their campaign from hell as high as they can.

Few punters will tuck in to the 11/1 odds about the Red Devils regaining their Champions League status by finishing fourth or higher, as Liverpool are still 11 points clear of Moyes’ crowd, but the Scot showed enough tactical acumen against the Eagles to suggest he is finally getting to grips with the task at hand at Old Trafford.

United are 4/11 to finish no lower than the sixth place they currently occupy and with a healthy set of fixtures to come between now and mid May, they look increasingly likely to achieve that modest outcome.

The boss’ old employers Everton are level on points with his new club and have a game in hand, but Roberto Martinez’s men have won just one of their last five Premier League games – losing three times during that run.

With new signing Lacina Traore joining fellow strikers Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone in the treatment room, the Toffees are seriously short up front and will need to get past in-form West Ham next time out at Goodison Park to return to winning ways.

Moyes has no such problems with his strikers at present, as Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney both showed their class with goals against Tony Pulis’ men, while the manager’s first experiment with Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata supporting his front two proved a qualified success.

United are yet to travel to Everton, but three of their other four road trips look eminently winnable, with Newcastle and Southampton both looking shaky at home of late and West Brom hovering above the drop zone by a point.

Their next two home games may be against Liverpool and Manchester City, but their last four see Aston Villa, Hull, Norwich and Sunderland travel to the north west.

Moyes will be targeting the maximum haul from that quartet of matches and with defenders Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Rafael all expected back for the clash with the Baggies, United will be too strong for Everton in the home stretch.

United travel to Greece for their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Olympiacos next time out and are 23/20 to take a lead back to Old Trafford in three weeks time.

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

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Alex Fortune