Manchester City ought to pick up only their second victory in their last six Premier League encounters when they travel to London to take on Crystal Palace (3pm Saturday).
Pep Guardiola’s (pictured) charges were held to a third consecutive 1-1 home draw before the international break, a goal from Marten de Roon in second-half stoppage time rescuing a valuable point for Middlesbrough at the Eithad Stadium.
Man City have gone through a sticky patch in the Premier League of late, with just one win collected in their last five matches. While they have often played well in many of those matches, the Citizens need to start turning their positive performances into tangible results. Although they have now been overtaken at the top of the table by Liverpool, Man City remain in a strong position as the second third of the campaign approaches. Their points return of 24 from the first 33 available leaving them just two adrift of the summit ahead of the weekend’s action and the bookies still have them as their favourites to win the Premier League title.
Crystal Palace have lost each of their last four games in the top flight, with a 3-2 defeat by Burnley last time out seeing them drop to 16th place in the standings. That’s just one point above the bottom three. The Eagles were undone at Turf Moor largely due to defensive errors of their own making. The visitors’ general display was pretty good and should have been enough for them to secure at least a point. It will be a major concern for Alan Pardew that his team have still not kept a clean sheet in the Premier League this year, with Sunderland the only other side yet to register a single shut-out. Overall it has been a disappointing start to the season for Palace, who spent £50 million in the summer in their pursuit of a place in the top half of the table.
Man City will have to make do without midfielder Fabian Delph, while Yaya Toure appears no closer to returning to the fold despite issuing an apology to his manager. Fernando and Bacary Sagna have recovered from a knock and a hamstring issue respectively and therefore could be involved, although both men may have to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench. Guardiola has used both a four-man backline and three in defence at times this season, with the latter setup more likely at Selhurst Park this weekend.
Crystal Palace cannot use Loic Remy (thigh), Pape Souare (broken leg) and Jonathan Benteke (knee), while goalkeeper Steve Mandanda is a doubt with a knee problem. Joel Ward could continue at left-back after Martin Kelly’s struggles in that role in recent weeks, while James McArthur, Yohan Cabaye and Jason Puncheon will probably make up the midfield three. Christian Benteke, who has scored four goals in nine appearances since moving to the south London club from Liverpool in August, could cause problems for Man City’s centre-halves in the air.
It is difficult to look past a Manchester City victory this weekend, with Guardiola’s side stronger than their opponents in all areas of the pitch. The four-time English champions may have struggled to pick up victories in recent weeks but their performances have generally been good. Palace’s defensive shakiness means it could be difficult for the hosts to contain an attacking unit that features the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne.