- Benjamin Wolfe
City aiming to move within one win of league title - Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Preview
City travel to London to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League in the early Saturday kick-off. If results go City’s way elsewhere this weekend, then a win at Selhurst Park could see Pep’s men crowned champions.
John Stones will be the sole missing player for Pep this weekend. The England centre-back is suspended due to a red card he received against Aston Villa. There are no fresh injury concerns for City, and keeping a fit squad with this game sandwiched between two legs of a Champions League final will be Pep’s main concern.
Predicted City XI: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Ferran
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Marc Perry, Nick Hopton
Fourth official: Stuart Attwell
VAR: Jonathan Moss
Assistant VAR: Gary Beswick
David Coote was the referee when Manchester City hosted Sheffield United back in January when the blues beat the Blades 1-0.
Kick-off: 12:30 (GMT)
Venue: Selhurst Park
Shown: BT Sport 1
Manchester City head to Selhurst Park knowing that if they win and Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday, they will be crowned champions upon the final whistle at Old Trafford.
Manchester City sit atop the Premier League with a comfortable ten-point gap over Manchester United in second place. Since this game sits between the home and away legs of City’s Champions League semi-final tie against PSG, we will likely see a considerable amount of rotation.
If City win this game, and Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday, then Manchester City will be crowned champions of England for the third time in four seasons. Incredible stuff.
In this situation, Pep was quoted as saying: "Let me travel to London this afternoon, try to wake up tomorrow good and try to win the game. The rest we cannot control. Crystal Palace has always been so difficult for us. I don't remember an easy game. It is all we can do.”
Manchester City currently find themselves on an eighteen-game unbeaten streak away from home. Securing number nineteen with a win tomorrow would leave City needing just two points to secure the title, no matter what happens elsewhere. This should be the sole focus of the players chosen to play, and they have to go out and get the job done.
Out-of-form players like Raheem Sterling should use this opportunity to show why they are so highly valued at the club and have been so feared by opponents for several years. We need to cross the finish line in the league as soon as possible. There is a potential Champions League final looming on the horizon.
Hopefully, this does not weigh on the minds of the players, as no doubt Crystal Palace will make this game excessively difficult for City. Wilfried Zaha in particular is always dangerous and will pounce on any lapses in concentration. The job is so very nearly done, but it is not over yet.
City know how close they are to a third Premier League title in four years, but they and Raheem Sterling will have to be at the top of their game to claim a win at Selhurst.
Crystal Palace reside in 13th place in the Premier League and appear to be safe from the drop zone. However recent results have not been great for Roy Hodgson. After losing the lead against Leicester on Monday, they find themselves with a single win in their last seven games. They will probably remain in the top flight, but they are a struggling side low on confidence as things stand. This will make them battle for every ball.
They also have several injury problems in their squad. James McArthur is out with a calf issue. Connor Wickham remains sidelined with fitness issues, as does Nathan Ferguson. Gary Cahill, Mamadou Sakho, Nathaniel Clyne, and James Tomkins face fitness tests before kick-off.
As always with Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha is their man to watch. The winger is the leading scorer for Palace this season with a ten-goal haul. His combination play with Eze being something City’s defenders will need to be aware of.
Palace’s recent form: DLWDLL
Predicted Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Kouyate, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Riedewald, Eze, Ayew, Benteke, Zaha
Eberechi Eze and Wilfred Zaha combined to give Palace the lead against Leicester last Monday and will look to cause a rotational City side major problems in the early kick-off.
Recent History vs Palace:
Manchester City have an impressive recent history against tomorrow’s opponents. They have won ten of their previous thirteen games against the London side. They have not lost a game against them in five, with the last defeat taking place in December 2018. A particular Andros Townsend strike being the difference.
The return fixture this season was a resounding 4-0 win for City. John Stones scored a brace in that game along with goals from Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan.
A City win. After the high of winning the Carabao Cup followed by an impressive victory away at PSG how could I not? Rotation will no doubt occur, but what better way to stake a claim for a place in the Champions League team than by performing when you are called upon.
I am going for a 0-3 City win, with a brace from Ferran Torres and a goal from Raheem Sterling.