Manchester City will hope to take a step closer to clinching the Premier League title when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The games continue to come thick and fast all across Europe, with Gameweek 34 of the 2020/21 season underway in the Premier League. Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off will feature the champions in waiting, as Manchester City lock horns with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace have once again managed to retain their Premier League status, although they are yet to mathematically stave off relegation. However, with 18th-placed Fulham a whopping 11 points adrift, it is safe to assume that the Eagles are not dropping down to the Championship. Having said that, Roy Hodgson’s men have tailed off a bit lately, winning just once since the end of February, although their fixture run has been quite horrendous as well.

Manchester City, on the other hand, have been on quite a roll since the turn of the year, leaving neighbours and second-placed Manchester United far behind. The ten-point gap is practically insurmountable, and it is highly likely that the Citizens will lift the Premier League title for a third time under Pep Guardiola. The visitors will further be buoyed by their crucial 2-1 win over PSG in the UEFA Champions League this week.

The reverse fixture, played at the Etihad back in January, saw Manchester City cruise to a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, with John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling on target. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson has a number of pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Manchester City. On Saturday, the Crystal Palace manager will have to make do without as many as four first-team players.

The good news is that Gary Cahill is fit and available after shrugging off a knock. The veteran centre-back will slot in at the heart of the Crystal Palace defence, where he should have Cheikhou Kouyate for company. As for those who are unavailable, the likes of Nathan Ferguson, Mamadou Sakho, James McArthur and Connor Wickham miss out.

Hodgson, though, has more than enough cover in his squad to make up for the absence of the aforementioned quartet. In goal, there is no looking past Vicente Guaita, with Crystal Palace expected to line up in their usual 4-4-2 formation. Joel Ward and Patrick van Aanholt will be the two full-backs who will primarily stay back but also look for counter-attacking opportunities.

Up ahead in midfield, the onus will be on Luka Milivojevic to combine with Jairo Riedewald and keep Manchester City at bay for large parts. Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze will be the two wide men, in-charge of providing the forward thrust from midfield. Finally, the strike partnership will comprise of Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, van Aanholt; Ayew, Milivojevic, Riedewald, Eze; Benteke, Zaha

Manchester City

Unlike his counterpart in the Crystal Palace dugout, Pep Guardiola hardly has any roster issues to contend with ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park. On Saturday, the Manchester City manager will only have to make do without one player, with John Stones serving the second of his three-match ban.

In Stones’ absence, Aymeric Laporte becomes a certainty at the heart of the Manchester City defence alongside Ruben Dias. Out wide, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko should be the two full-backs, with Ederson Moraes taking his place between the sticks.

With the game against PSG in mind, a few key players to could left out. Two of these include Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne. Fernandinho will sit at the base of the three-man midfield, with Bernardo Silva and Ikay Gundogan being the two workhorses in the middle of the park.

Gabriel Jesus should be leading the line for Manchester City against Crystal Palace. Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling will be the two wide men who will provide the forward thrust in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Torres, Jesus, Sterling

Betting Odds

Favourable Tips

1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.10

Hot Ones

1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 5.50

Key Stats

  • Crystal Palace have lost 13 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Manchester City, failing to score on 10 occasions (W2 D2).
  • Manchester City have scored a Premier League-high 32 goals away from home this season.
  • Crystal Palace have won just two of their 23 Premier League matches against sides at the top of the table (D4 L17), with both of those victories coming against Chelsea.
  • Manchester City have won 10 Premier League away matches in a row, scoring 26 goals and conceding just four. In all competitions, they have won 18 successive fixtures on the road (this excludes cup ties at Wembley, since it is a neutral venue).
  • Crystal Palace have conceded 25 top-flight home goals this season, a total exceeded only by Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion.
  • Wilfried Zaha’s total of 10 league goals equals his highest figure in a single season, set in 2018/19. He has failed to score in all 12 of his league and cup appearances against Manchester City.

Player to Watch

Raheem Sterling

Embed from Getty Images

It has been a bizarre season for Sterling, who has gone from being one of the most important players for Manchester City to fighting for his place in the side. Heading into the final portion of the season, the English international has been unable feature in the most important of games and that was true last time out against Paris Saint-Germain as well.

However, on Saturday versus Crystal Palace, Sterling will have the chance to make a difference in the final third. With six goals in his last seven starts in the Premier League against Palace, the England international will have the onus on him to step up.

Prediction

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester City will not be at full-strength, as far as the starting lineup against Crystal Palace is concerned. However, the Premier League leaders will still be extremely comfortable this weekend, with the Eagles barely threatening. An improved performance by Raheem Sterling should pave the way for a 2-0 win for Pep Guardiola & co.

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