Louis van Gaal sees little difference between Manchester United and Tottenham

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Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal claims there is little difference between his side and title-chasing Tottenham.

Spurs are pushing for their first league crown since 1961 and have earned praise throughout the campaign for their exhilarating play.

United by contrast are playing catch-up in the race for the fourth Champions League spot and have been regularly criticised for playing a dour and ponderous style of football. They were beaten 3-0 by Spurs less than a fortnight ago.

But Van Gaal - who acknowledges his side must beat Crystal Palace tonight to keep up the pressure in their bid for a Barclays Premier League top-four place - believes United are not far short of the highly-rated Londoners.

The Dutchman, whose side trail Spurs by 12 points, said: "We have beaten Tottenham 1-0 (earlier in the season) and until the 70th minute (of the last match) I think we were the better team, but then (there was) a mis-communication.

"So, I don't think there is a lot of distance between Tottenham and Manchester United, but the distance is in points.

"They have won more, they are scoring more and that's because they have more creative players."

Such is the pressure in the challenge for fourth that Van Gaal has had to put thoughts of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Everton to one side. He accepts there is little margin for error and will select his side to face Palace at Old Trafford accordingly.

He said: "This game against Crystal Palace is very important. We have to win, we need to win, otherwise we cannot close the gap. It is too important to rotate for freshness for the semi-final."

United and England captain Wayne Rooney will hope to continue after playing 67 minutes against Aston Villa at the weekend in his first start since recovering from a knee injury.

Palace boss Alan Pardew, who also has an FA Cup semi-final against Watford to think about, is similarly intending to field a strong side.

Fears of relegation have receded but Pardew wants to ensure recent momentum, after four games unbeaten, is maintained.

Pardew said: "I don't think anyone will look at our side and worry about us putting an under-strength team out when they see the team sheet.

"One or two changes I will definitely do just to increase the energy but we need to be strong and keep focused. I am not going to change my team completely. I don't believe in that."

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Alan Pardew
Louis van Gaal
Crystal Palace
Premier League

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