The Premier League resumes this weekend, as Manchester City prepare for a tricky trip to the Selhurst Park
The international break is upon us and club football finally returns back in action. Pep Guardiola’s men pay a visit to 16th placed Crystal Palace. Neither team go into the match in particularly good form with the home side having lost their four league games on the trot while the men in Sky Blue picking up only one win in their last five Premier League games.
Team news and tactics
After a good spell of results in September, Alan Pardew’s men have looked out-of-sorts in the recent months, finding themselves flirting with the relegation spot, with Hull City only a point behind at the 18th place.
While Crystal Palace’s summer signings haven’t fired all cylinders just yet, they have shown they can cause problems defensively for their opponents, outlined by the fact that they are the joint fifth-highest scorers in this season’s Premier League with 16 goals.
Steve Mandanda has recovered from his minor knee injury, and should continue to start between the sticks. Joel Ward and Martin Kelly will be the two full-backs with Scott Dann and James Tomkins at the heart of the defense. Considering the pace of Manchester City’s front-line, 35 year old centre-back Damien Delaney would have to settle with a place on the bench.
James McArthur will be tasked to stop the waves of City attack with Yohan Cabaye in support in the middle of the park. The latter could be very crucial if the home side are to get a positive result, with his ability to pick out runners on the counter.
The pace of Andros Townsend on the right and in-form Wilfried Zaha on the left can be a terrifying prospect on the break for Manchester City to contain, with Jason Puncheon playing through the middle. Christian Benteke will continue to lead the line, with his physical presence sure to give a tough evening for John Stones.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Mandanda; Ward, Tomkins, Dann, Kelly; McArthur, Cabaye; Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha; Benteke.
Pep Guardiola’s men squandered their place at the top of the league after conceding an equalizer right at the death against Middlesbrough, which meant Liverpool and Chelsea leaped ahead in the first and second place respectively.
This season has been arguably the most competitive the Premier League has been in recent memory, with as many as five teams in contention for the title. As such, every team has to be on their toes as even a single point dropped can have huge implications on the race for the title.
Manchester City have would have to be at their professional best to secure the three points on Saturday, and to achieve that Pep Guardiola will pick his strongest possible eleven even with a trip to Germany scheduled in the midweek.
The Catalan manager has experimented with a few formations in recent weeks, but it does seem he will stick will his preferred 4-3-3 at Selhurst Park.
Claudio Bravo had an injury scare during the international break, but he did play for Chile on Wednesday and should be fine to continue on Saturday. Bacary Sagna is back after his hamstring tear, but Pablo Zabaleta might continue as the right-back. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones should be the defensive duo with Vincent Kompany feeling a minor discomfort during the international break. Aleksander Kolarov will be at left-back.
Fernandinho has been exceptional as the number six, and should remain the same for Saturday with in-form Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva ahead of him as the primary play-makers.
Sergio Aguero didn’t start for Argentina in the international break, and as such, would be raring to go in this match. ‘Kun’ should be flanked by Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on either side in a fluid playing system.
- Manchester City have won 10 of their last 11 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- Crystal Palace haven’t kept a clean sheet this season, shipping in 19 goals.
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- Crystal Palace have conceded at least 3 goals in their last 3 league matches.
- Sergio Aguero has scored the opening goal of a game on more occasions than any other Premier League player this season (5)
1. Over 10.5 Total Corners @1.80
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @1.60
3. Asian Handicap Cards Man City +0.5 @1.850
1. Over 13 Total Corners @3.50
2. Over 3.5 Match Goals @2.37
Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 3
Both teams would want a strong response after their poor run of results. Crystal Palace’s defence have to be their at their very best to hold-on firmly against the onslaught of Manchester City attacks that is expected on Saturday.
While Alan Pardew has the knack of pulling off upsets against the big names, it does look City’s front-line would prove too much to handle for his men.