Review and Player Ratings from Faltering Finishing Display – Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester City
Pep Guardiola chose an unchanged eleven from the 4-1 home victory against Manchester United for this important away game at Selhurst Park, but the Blues didn’t have quite the same blistering performance they did last weekend – dropping two points against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace side after failing to take their chances in front of goal.
City dominated possession in the opening stages of the match with a commanding 74% of the ball during the opening quarter of the game, but Palace were the more threatening of the two during this period. The defence gifted them chances, albeit as a result of an effective high press from Vieira’s men, with Laporte and Walker giving the ball away quite cheaply to grant Zaha and Olise with early sights at goal.
The Premier League leaders really should’ve opened the scoring 15 minutes into the tie as a 25-yard strike from Kevin De Bruyne was spilt by Guaita and fell at the feet of Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese attempted to control the ball before having a shot from 5 yards out, but his touch was heavy, and the ball ran out of play. Guardiola’s side again tried piling on the pressure with attempts from long range through Stones and Cancelo, who came close to beating Guaita low to his left.
A lofted through ball from Cancelo was flicked towards goal with the outside of his right boot by De Bruyne, but the Palace goalkeeper reached up well to stop the Belgian’s effort from sneaking in at the near post.
The Citizens again had a golden chance to open the scoring after a piledriving shot from Cancelo cannoned off the post and fell to Aymeric Laporte 10 yards from goal, but his shot directed at the open goal flew over the bar.
The first half ended with chances for Riyad Mahrez and Wilfried Zaha but neither could find the back of the net, and the sides entered the break on even terms.
The Premier League champions found most of their success coming through diagonal switches to Mahrez and Jack Grealish followed by long-range efforts at goal but struggled at times to truly break down the Palace defence. The home side found some joy early on with their high and intense press – but couldn’t quite capitalise on errors from the City defence like they had done in the reverse fixture.
The Blues came out for the second half in much the same vein. A beautiful pass from Grealish put De Bruyne in on goal who’s left-footed effort from a tight angle struck the post. On the rebound, Mahrez had his powerful shot saved by Guaita, but the flag went up for offside anyway.
The Belgian midfielder was again played in behind the Palace backline after Foden dropped deep and controlled the ball effortlessly before pivoting and sliding in his teammate one on one. The touch just slightly evaded De Bruyne, and the ball trickled on to the Eagles’ number 1.
Bernardo Silva again really should’ve taken the lead. His third opportunity of the game and easily the biggest chance created in the match came after excellent play from De Bruyne and Grealish. The £100m man found himself on the by-line and fired the ball across the goal, but Bernardo’s stretch at the ball was just short – and the shot rolled wide of the post.
Palace kept piling on the pressure, but the visitors were the more likely team to score in the second half. Guardiola once again didn’t make any substitutions in the game, something the Catalan seems quite happy to do during games with tight scorelines such as this one.
The final chance of the game fell on the head of Laporte. With 5 minutes of stoppage time to go, De Bruyne whipped a delightful free-kick into the centre of the area, but the Spain international couldn’t get a proper connection on his header, and it bounced off a Palace defender for Guiata to gather.
City will be bitterly disappointed to drop points yet again to Patrick Vieira’s side and have now left themselves only four points clear of title rivals Liverpool, with the Reds still a game in hand to play.
The Blues lacked urgency in their play, but the main takeaway from this performance is the inability to stick the ball in the back of the net once again. Plenty of shooting opportunities arose throughout the game, but the league leaders missed every time. Maybe the introduction of Raheem Sterling or Ilkay Gundogan off the bench could’ve sparked a goal in the latter stages of the game – but it was not to be.
City will now look to regroup for their FA Cup quarter-final away to Southampton before another tricky away game in the Premier League against Burnley.
Ederson - 6
Walker – 5.5
Stones – 7.5
Laporte - 6
Cancelo - 6
Rodri – 6.5
De Bruyne - 7
Bernardo Silva - 5
Mahrez - 6
Foden - 5
Grealish - 6
Written by: @_TJ9320
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