Our Premier League scribe previews Saturday's game between Crystal Palace and Man City.
The omens do not exactly look that promising for those at Selhurst Park. Despite an injection of considerable capital into the squad, Palace have only won 5 of their last 31 Premier League fixtures. This poor run of form has been abstracted somewhat by the fact that it stretches over the course of two seasons.
Frankly, their side has lacked solidity in midfield and defense while relying too heavily on their frontline. City will be looking to get their Premier League procession back on the road following that dispiriting 1-1 draw with Middleborough. Pep will be buoyed by the club’s recent history over the Eagles and will be viewing this as an opportunity for his side to flex their collective muscle.
Crystal Palace v Man City | Saturday 19 November | Selhurst Park | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Crystal Palace 47/10 | Draw 33/10 | Manchester City 5/10
That last result against Burnley really epitomized the conundrum that is Palace. Irresistible at times going forward, there is just no acumen when defending tight match situations. Cabaye and McArthur are both too progressive in their 4-2-3-1 formation, making them extremely susceptible to the counterattack.
Looking at the likes of Sterling and De Bruyne, Palace’s holding midfielders are going to be desperately under pressure this Saturday. The problem is, when you look at the flash players at their disposal, I can’t really see Palace playing any other way. Zaha and Townsend will try to break quickly and feed the goal-scoring totem that is Benteke.
Benteke will feel fairly confident of success against a germinating central-defensive partnership of Stones and Otamendi. I don’t think that will enjoy enough opportunities in this match however. Zaha and co are clearly going to be deployed in deeper roles to counteract the obvious City threat. Furthermore, Mandanda has hardly been the model of consistency in goals, a theme that has plagued Pardew through both Speroni and Hennessey's tenures.
City won their last encounter against Palace 4-0 and the previous one 5-1. They have won 10 of their previous 11 encounters against the Eagles. Confidence will no doubt be running high.
One area of concern for Guardiola could be the physical readiness of the likes of Zabaleta and Otamendi. The South American internationals endured a grueling qualifying schedule that could possibly leave some lingering effects this week. The way that Gundogan has assimilated into the fabric of the side has been exceptional and he could turn out to be a key acquisition by Guardiola
Pep will persist with the cavalier 4-1-4-1 system that has worked fairly well thus far. Let’s be fair, they absolutely dominated that Borough game and shouldn’t feel too despondent by the ultimate result. Sterling and De Bruyne will relentlessly drive at Palace’s defense, which will battle to front up in terms of mobility. Aguero will get plenty of chances as the City midfield dominates proceedings. Aguero’s ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ policy will be particularly effective against a goalkeeper short of confidence.
Verdict: Halftime-Fulltime Double: Man City/Man City 23/20
This game, on paper, just looks ideal for City. alace will be under pressure against an increasingly beleaguered home crowd. This will force them to be potentially reckless in possession, particularly considering the fact that their game hinges on exploiting space and counterattacking swiftly. Key players will be Silva and De Bruyne, whose cleverness and vision will soon exacerbate any Palace error of judgement. A heavy home defeat could spell doom for the tenure of Alan Pardew.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets