- Dillon Meehan
Preview: Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Crystal Palace vs Manchester City
Manchester City travel to south London for a Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park for Saturday’s evening kick-off at 5:30 pm (GMT). The Blues are currently five points behind first-place Arsenal, who are set to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
It’s the longest break between games for City in a month, which was needed after a gruelling February stretch.
John Stones has returned to training and hopefully will feature against Crystal Palace in some capacity. After re-aggravating his foot injury against Newcastle, Phil Foden seems to have fully recovered and is back to 100%. After missing most of February with injuries, the 22-year-old has arguably been the club’s best player.
It’s unknown if Kyle Walker will feature for City after an investigation has been opened against him for allegations of indecent exposure at a Cheshire bar.
When asked about it in his press conference, Pep Guardiola refused to offer much information:
"A private issue. We solve it internally with him. This is not the place to discuss private issues."
After complaining about the travel to London following City’s loss to Tottenham, Guardiola was asked about the travel situation to London:
"It was that day, six hours from here to the hotel. But we didn’t lose to Tottenham because of that trip. That day for many reasons, the traffic, delays to trains many hours. That day it took six hours."
However, City won’t be taking the train into London this time. Guardiola revealed that the club will be flying into London, avoiding any potential train delays.
Ederson, Lewis, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish, Haaland, Foden
Despite Stones coming back, I do not expect him to be immediately thrust into the starting XI. With the second leg against RB Leipzig on Tuesday, I expect a strong side to feature to get the side back in rhythm. Hopefully, a few early goals can allow for a few key members of the squad to be substituted out to prepare for the Champions League tie.
After taking control of Crystal Palace last season, Patrick Vieira was able to concoct a game plan that took five points away from City and nearly cost the Blues the Premier League title.
Guardiola was asked about Vieira’s time as a manager and spoke highly of his experience and ability:
"I’ve not been with him in the locker room but his experience as a football player, he was in France already had big experience and with Palace, he’s done a really good job. Premier League every game is difficult, at home as well. Crystal Palace we struggle a lot to get results."
However, this season hasn’t been as successful for the Eagles. Despite possessing loads of attacking talent, the south London club have scored just 21 goals, the fifth lowest in the league. That lack of production up front has led to the club going winless in 2023, with their last victory coming on New Year’s Eve against Brentford.
Things have regressed to such an extreme level this season that, according to Talk Sport, Vieira is currently under “increasing pressure”. History hasn’t been kind to City when facing managers with their jobs on the line.
As for squad news on Crystal Palace, Cheick Doucoure will be suspended for the match. The Malian midfielder has been one of Palace’s best players since joining in the summer and has started nearly every match this season.
Last season Vieira guided Palace to a 12th-place finish and was just four points shy of finishing 8th. This season they ironically are 12th one again, but when you combine the lack of goal-scoring with the winless streak now reaching ten games, one can understand why the Frenchman’s job is reportedly on the line.
To learn more about the opposition, check out the City Report Podcast, where sports journalist Amos Murphy spoke with Crystal Palace fan Dan, aka HLTCO about the state of the club to preview Saturday’s match.
The last time the two sides met came in August when Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland inspired a heroic second-half Etihad Stadium comeback, with the latter scoring his first treble for the Blues after Guardiola’s side found themselves 0-2 down at half-time.
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Ian Hussin & Dan Robathan
Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall
VAR: Neil Swarbrick
Assistant VAR: Steve Meredith
Written by: @IVIeehan
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