Manchester City head to South London to face an in-form Crystal Palace side as Pep Guardiola’s men aim to get back to winning ways.

Crystal Palace will be wary of the threat posed by their opponents and visitors Manchester City as Roy Hodgson’s men aim to keep hold of their impressive sixth position on the table. Palace are in top form at the moment in the league having recorded back to back wins before the international break, with the latest coming away from home to West Ham United.

Hodgson’s side have so far fared well, but their real test begins with the Manchester City game as they gear up to face the top-five teams in consecutive games. Palace have already beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford this season and Hodgson will take that spirit to exploit Manchester City, who looked vulnerable at the back in their last outing.

Pep Guardiola will have been disappointed at the way his team fared in their last league outing. Manchester City lost to Wolves at the Etihad quite comprehensively, while also falling behind leaders Liverpool by 8 points already. Guardiola will hope his side answer their critics by beating Palace and momentarily close the gap on Liverpool at the top.

However, Palace in the past have proven to be a thorn for Manchester City as Guardiola will be well aware of their defensive qualities, especially at home. But the way the Cityzens attack will be crucial for their chances in this game, as an early goal will set the tone for the rest of the game. Will the reigning champions react in emphatic fashion or further slip behind Liverpool on the table? We will have to see.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Hodgson will be praising his luck at having a near full squad for the Manchester City game, with Palace’s only real concern being Mamadou Sakho. The manager will likely make minimal changes to the side that beat West Ham in the last encounter.

On the plus side, midfielder Luka Milivojevic is back in the squad after serving a one-game suspension before the international break. The midfielder’s return will undoubtedly boost Palace who are not short of any confidence at the moment. James McCarthy might be the player to make way for the Serbian in midfield, while James McArthur is back in contention for a spot himself.

Hodgson will likely retain the 4-5 1 formation with Jordan Ayew the man to lead the line for Palace. With five midfielders at the hub, Wilfried Zaha and Jeffery Schlupp will provide options from wide areas. Cheikhou Kouyate and McArthur will likely partner Milivojevic at the centre.

Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Guaita; Ward, Kelly, Cahill, van Aanholt; Zaha, McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Schlupp; Ayew

Manchester City

Guardiola will be relieved to see some of his problems at central defence ease up. John Stones was pictured in first-team training, and the chances are he might start against Palace. In recent weeks, the City backline was guarded by Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho. Still, Guardiola cautioned the duo might not be able to play many games in a row, and so Stones might come in.

Stones could replace Fernandinho and partner Otamendi in central defence. However, there was a hamstring problem for Benjamin Mendy which ruled him out of the Wolves game. The Frenchman could have recovered and been available for the Palace clash, but given his injury history, Guardiola might opt for Oleksandr Zinchencko at left-back.

On to more positive updates, Kevin De Bruyne is also back in full training and might feature from the start. David Silva could even begin the game and continue his impressive form this season. On the attacking side, Guardiola might opt to go with Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez in a three-fold front line.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, David Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

Key Stats

  • Crystal Palace are undefeated in their last six home matches in the Premier League.
  • Manchester City have won 10 of their last 11 away Premier League games.
  • Manchester City have scored at least two goals in their last eight games against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
  • Manchester City are also undefeated in 9 of their last ten games against Crystal Palace.
  • Manchester City have drawn one and lost another to Palace in the last three meetings between the two sides.

Player to Watch

John Stones

Can Stones prove himself to Guardiola again? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Can Stones prove himself to Guardiola again? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Once touted the future of English defence, Stones has seen a somewhat dip in form in the last two seasons. There were games previous term when he was fit and still not selected, which somehow showed Guardiola was losing his patience with the defender. At present with Manchester City in a defensive crisis at the back, Stones is expected to step up in his role and provide a reliable option at the back.

The injury to Aymeric Laporte might come as a boon for Stones, who might finally get a consistent run of games if he performs well against Palace. This could also provide Fernandinho with some much-needed rest, but any slip up from Stones will force Guardiola to bring back the Brazilian into the mix. A very important game beckons for Stones.

Prediction

Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City

Guardiola is no stranger to occasional defeats, but he is also well-versed with bringing his team out of such a slump of form. Manchester City are very much expected to be back to their rampant best and respond against Palace after the Wolves’ setback . The defensive mentality of Hodgson’s team will prevent the visitors to score at will but expect them to score at least 2-3 goals during this encounter.

As for Palace, this could be a good game if they manage to surprise Manchester City as they have done in the past. Despite the London side’s impressive form recently, they might find it challenging to get past the champions in this game, but owing to the Manchester side’s defensive issues, Palace might find a way to score. In the end though, we predict three points for Man City.

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