Man City vs. Crystal Palace
Venue; Etihad Stadium
Kick off: 4PM
Manchester City will be looking to make it six straight victories in all competitions when they welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this afternoon.
Pep Guardiola’s side moved above Leicester City into second spot in the table last weekend, but they are still 14 points off leaders Liverpool, while Palace occupy ninth following a solid campaign to date.
There is no getting away from the fact that City have not been at their best this season, and it seems incredible to think that a team with their talent has suffered five Premier League defeats already this term.
Guardiola’s side were at their best last weekend, though, as they recorded a 6-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick for the reigning champions, while Riyad Mahrez continued his fine form with a brace as Dean Smith’s team were blown away in front of their own supporters.
The win, coupled with Leicester’s shock home loss to Southampton, saw City return to second spot in the table, now two points clear of the Foxes on the same number of matches.
The Citizens could win each of their remaining 16 matches of the 2019-20 campaign and are still unlikely to get anywhere near Liverpool, though, as Jurgen Klopp’s side have a 14-point advantage with a game in hand.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Guardiola prioritises other competitions as the season progresses as it could still be a brilliant campaign for the club.
Indeed, they are on course to make yet another EFL Cup final having recorded a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the first leg of their semi-final.
City is also through to the fourth round of the FA Cup having overcome Port Vale, while they have the small matter of a last-16 Champions League clash with Real Madrid to come.
The first leg of their European tie will be at the Bernabeu on February 26 before the reverse at the Etihad Stadium on March 17.
Guardiola’s team have lost to both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United on home soil in the Premier League this season, while Palace have already triumphed at Old Trafford during the 2019-20 campaign.
All City can do in the league is keep winning and see where that takes them, and they will be looking for a double over the Eagles having recorded a 2-0 victory in the reverse match at Selhurst Park in October.
Palace might have lost their last two Premier League games against the Citizens, but they recorded a 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium in the corresponding clash last season.
The Eagles are certainly a team capable of picking up big results, although much of their success this season has been built on a strong defence, with only three teams conceding fewer goals in the top flight.
Incredibly, no side in the Premier League has scored fewer goals than Palace during the 2019-20 campaign, with Roy Hodgson’s team finding the back of the net on just 20 occasions in their 22 matches.
Cenk Tosun has arrived on loan from Everton in the hope of boosting their output in the final third, while it would also be fair to say that the fans will be looking for more from Wilfried Zaha over the next few months.
Indeed, as talented as the Ivorian is, he has only contributed three goals and three assists in the Premier League this season, which is simply not enough for a player with his skill set.
Palace, who were dumped out of the FA Cup by Derby County earlier this month, will enter Saturday’s clash off the back of a 1-1 draw against Arsenal in the Premier League last weekend.
The capital outfit have actually only won one of their last eight in the league, which came at home to West Ham United on Boxing Day.
They have been the draw specialists in many ways having shared the points in five of their last eight fixtures in England’s top flight.
There is no question that Hodgson would take a point at the Etihad Stadium, and a positive result this weekend would lead them nicely into back-to-back home fixtures with Southampton and Sheffield United.
Palace will again travel without a number of key players, though, and it is difficult to imagine City not putting another win on the board due to their excellent form in recent weeks.
Man City possible XI: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Mendy, Rodri, D Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero, Mahrez.
Crystal Palace possible XI: Guaita, Kelly, Tomkins, Cahill, Riedewald, McArthur, McCarthy, Kouyate, Ayew, Tosun, Zaha.