- Charley Longden
Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Preview
League leaders Manchester City head down to Selhurst Park to face Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace; Pep Guardiola's men are looking to go 6 points clear at the top of the table. The match is on Monday the 14th of March and will kick off at 20:00 (GMT) - the game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
City have had a major boost going into the match against the Eagles, with Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake, Cole Palmer and Zack Steffen all returning to training. The squad will need to be as strong as possible going into a crucial run-in, as the league leaders are still in the running for the Premier League title, FA Cup and Champions League. With Ruben Dias on the side-line for the next few weeks, Ake could play an important role in this City side, with rotation being an important attribute in Guardiola's armoury.
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Foden, Grealish
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Mahrez, Sterling (10)
Last result: D 0-0 v Sporting CP (H)
Despite being held to a monotonous 0-0 draw, the Blues comfortably cruised through to the Champions League quarter-final in the week, beating Sporting by an aggregate score of 5-0. As is standard with Manchester City these days, the Blues were dominant in possession, having 69% of the ball. City also managed 14 shots, 4 of which were on target. Guardiola’s men thought they had the breakthrough on the 47th minute when Gabriel Jesus smashed the ball into the net – however, after a VAR review, the goal was disallowed for offside. City have now reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in each of the last five seasons.
The highlight of the night was undoubtedly the rare appearance from Scott Carson; the 36-year-old made his first appearance in the Champions League since playing for Liverpool against Juventus in 2006. Carson made history by returning to the Champions League after the longest absence in the competition’s history, 16 years, and 338 days. The Cumbrian born keeper made arguably the best save of the night, denying Paulinho on the 76th minute.
The last time City met Palace, things didn’t go to plan. Going down to 10 men due to Aymeric Laporte being sent off in added time of the first half and losing the match 2-0. Goals from Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher stunned the Blues in the October fixture, adding to an already difficult start that City had made to the season. Since the loss in October, City have been in dazzling form, winning 22 games out of a possible 26 in all competitions.
With Ruben Dias being ruled out for the next few weeks, it is pivotal that John Stones and Aymeric Laporte step up and command the backline. Stones has been excellent when called upon this season, keeping a clean sheet in all but one of the 8 league matches he has started in. The 27-year-old is also yet to be booked in a league match this season and didn’t receive a single yellow card in any of his 35 appearances in all competitions last season. The last time the Barnsley born centre back was yellow-carded in the Premier League was in December 2018. An incredible disciplinary record for a defender.
This is league match number 29 for City in their attempt to win back-to-back league titles for the second time under Guardiola. With Liverpool beating Brighton 2-0 on Saturday, the gap is back down to 3 points. The pressure is constantly rising for the Blues, and City will yet again need to hold their nerve and make sure that gap once again stretches to 6 points. A slip up against Palace could be extremely costly.
League position: 11th
Top scorer: Zaha (9)
Last result: W 0-2 v Wolves (A)
Crystal Palace have found themselves in fine form as of late, only losing 1 out of their last 8 matches in all competitions. The Eagles’ most recent match was a 2-0 away win against Wolves, in which Jean-Phillipe Mateta and Wilfried Zaha were on the scoresheet. Vieira’s men have been draw experts this season, drawing 12 league matches out of a possible 28.
Palace will be full of confidence going into the game against City after beating them at the Etihad in October. A match in which Vieira got his tactics exactly right and the Palace players put in a top performance. The Eagles will be hoping they can replicate this on Monday night and do Liverpool a huge favour in the title race. Against the ‘big 6’ this season, Palace have won 2, drawn 1 and lost 6, the other win being an incredible 3-0 victory over Spurs in September.
Vieira is having a fantastic first season in charge of Palace – at no point have they been in any danger of going down. The Frenchman has led them to the FA Cup quarter-finals, just one win away from Wembley. The squad looks revitalised and appears to strike a nice balance of experience and young exciting prospects such as 20-year-old Michael Olise, 22-year-old Conor Gallagher and 21-year-old Marc Guehi. With 33 points on the board, Palace fans will be hoping their side can push for a top-half finish, something Palace haven’t managed since the 14/15 season.
Conor Gallagher has looked a constant standout all season, scoring 8 goals and providing 5 assists in all competitions. On loan from Chelsea, the Englishman has made a good impression on the Premier League this season, and rest assured he will be a wanted man when it comes to the summer transfer window at the end of the season. The midfielder scored a world-class goal against Watford in February, opening his body, allowing the ball to shift to his right side, and then firing the ball past Ben Foster – proving that the young star can not only put in an excellent shift in midfield but can produce moments of magic also.
The first time these two sides met was in January 1921, a 2-0 win for Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Five years later, however, Manchester City got their revenge in a devasting 11-4 win, also in the FA Cup, at Maine Road. Selhurst Park is undoubtedly a difficult place to go for any team, but in recent years, City have found the answer. The Blues are unbeaten in their last 7 visits to Selhurst Park, the last time Palace got a home win over City was in April 2015. A game in which Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon were on the scoresheet for the Eagles, and Yaya Toure for the Blues.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts & Richard West
Fourth official: Simon Hooper
VAR: Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard
Written by: @CharleyLongden
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