- Bradley Price
Review and Player Ratings as Haaland nets again in hard-fought win – Crystal Palace 0-1 Man City
Manchester City produced a dominant and solid win over Crystal Palace. Chances were abundant but Erling Haaland's confident penalty was all that was needed to take the three points on the night.
Pep Guardiola named two changes with his XI to face Crystal Palace, with John Stones back in the starting XI at right-back over Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva replaced Kevin De Bruyne in the middle of midfield. Ederson started in goal as usual with a back four in front of him of Stones, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake. Rodri took his usual position just in front of the defence, with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva completing the midfield. Jack Grealish and Phil Foden once again occupied the wings, and Haaland started up top.
It was a dominant start for City, and it didn't take long for the chances to start appearing, with the first one occurring just three minutes into the game as Rodri found himself open to launch a volley from inside the Palace box, but a strong save prevented City from claiming an early lead. Almost immediately after, City found themselves with another great opportunity as Grealish showed off some skilful dribbling to open himself up to take a chance on goal, but his effort drifted wide of the post. The story didn't end there as much of the same was seen from City in the first half as chance after chance found themselves being wasted, blocked or off target. There were worrying signs that this could be yet another typical City result the fans have become so wary of in recent times. It just seemed like no matter how dominant City were or how many chances they had, the ball wouldn't go into the back of the net, and the half ended with the score still 0-0 between the sides.
It didn't seem like much had changed after the halftime break as City once again found themselves dominating the game but being unable to convert the chances they were creating. Perhaps City's closest chance in the game so far came in the 57th minute as Foden found himself standing over a freekick right on the edge of the Palace box; his attempt on goal from the freekick was a good one, but unfortunately, the save was even better.
Almost immediately after his good attempt on goal Foden was substituted off as Guardiola decided he didn't like what he was seeing and brought on Alvarez to seemingly focus play more centrally. And it didn't take much time to show why Alvarez was picked to come on as he created a great chance in the 61st minute by turning his marker in the Palace box, but the subsequent shot was off target. More chances kept coming and going for City as the game progressed into the final 20 minutes, and the worries that the past was going to once again repeat itself started to build, but just as City were worrying they had wasted their best chances, Palace were caught sleeping from a corner in the 76th minute and in a desperate attempt to close down the open Gundogan, Michael Olise found himself committing too much into the challenge and it was a penalty to City. Haaland stepped up to the spot, and the fact he had missed a couple of chances in the game didn't seem to bother him in the slightest as he stuck the ball with conviction from the spot sending the Palace keeper the wrong way; the deadlock was broken at last. 1-0 City.
After the goal, Palace did step out more, and the game did open up slightly as they looked to equalise, but City's defence stood strong to maintain the lead. City did also create a few more chances themselves after De Bruyne entered the field just after the penalty and looked more like his usual self, which is a great positive for City looking forward to the Champions League game in midweek.
A strong result for City and perhaps one that could provide a bit of extra belief as their strong and stable defence meant the one chance they were able to take tonight was the one that mattered. The team definitely looks more like the City of last season; maybe too much with the wasted chances, but they went out and got the result we needed to maintain pressure on the league leaders, Arsenal.
Man of the Match
Stuck between a few players today for Man of the Match, but Rodri once again showed his excellence and often doesn't get his flowers for his consistently top performances. Dominant in the middle and crucial for how City play he would be a deserving recipient for his performance today.
Ederson - 6
Stones - 7
Akanji - 7
Dias - 7
Ake - 7
Rodri - 8
Gundogan - 8
Bernardo - 7
Foden - 7
Grealish - 7
Haaland - 7 Substitutions: Alvarez - 7, De Bruyne - N/A, Walker - N/A
Written by: @BPFoden_
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