Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday’s Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Manchester City.
The Citizens suffered a rare defeat in midweek, losing 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie, but all is not lost and they are still on course for an unprecedented quadruple.
Palace are one of only four sides to have stopped Man City from winning a match over the last four months, memorably coming out on top 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in December to temporarily derail their opponents’ campaign.
That is the only game, best remembered for Andros Townsend‘s world-class strike to put Palace in front after they had fallen behind inside the opening half an hour, that City have failed to take three points from on their own patch this term.
In fact, Palace have become a bogey side of sorts for Guardiola’s men, having also ended the champions’ 18-match winning run in the Premier League in December 2017 with a well-earned goalless draw.
Palace’s form has been far too inconsistent since their shock win at the Etihad, though, failing to win back-to-back games in their 15 top-flight matches since then.
Skipper Luka Milivojevic scored the decisive goal at St James’ Park from the penalty spot, taking Palace up to 39 points for the season and all but guaranteeing another year of Premier League football.
As Roy Hodgson has admitted, though, simply staying in the division is not good enough for Palace, who aspire to challenge for European football.
Despite coming away from Newcastle with victory, the Eagles are eight points adrift of seventh-placed Leicester City, meaning a top-half finish is near enough all they have to aim for between now and the end of the campaign.
Half of Palace’s remaining matches are at home, where they have won just 41% of their Premier League points this season (16/39) – the lowest such ratio in the division. Selhurst Park is far from a fortress, then, but the Eagles tend to up their game against the Citizens so anything is possible this weekend.
Recent form in Premier League: LWLWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWLW
More than anything, Sunday’s trip to South London will offer Man City a chance to regain their momentum ahead of another massive week in their quest for a quadruple.
Losing at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was not part of the plan, of course, but the Citizens will feel confident of turning the two-legged tie around on home soil to keep their Champions League dream alive.
Guardiola cannot afford to turn focus to that return leg just yet, though, as any sort of slip up in the Premier League could well turn out to be catastrophic.
Liverpool returned to the top of the table last week with their nervy 3-1 win at Southampton, a day before Man City beat Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at Wembley Stadium to book their place in the FA Cup final.
With a game in hand still to play, however, City’s title destiny remains in their own hands. Beat Palace, Tottenham, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester and Brighton and they will become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League title. It is that simple.
After seeing their 14-match winning run come to an end in midweek, now is the time for Guardiola’s men to respond by putting the pressure on Liverpool, who face Chelsea in Sunday’s late kickoff.
The Citizens’ league form has been nothing short of phenomenal, winning their last eight matches and keeping a clean sheet in six of their last seven.
However, City have lost two of their last eight Premier League games against sides starting in the bottom half of the table, having lost just one of their previous 52 such games in the competition.
In a week that could make or break City’s campaign – in terms of their quadruple hopes, at least – only three points will do from this trip to Selhurst Park.
Recent form in Premier League: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWL
Despite the importance of picking up all three points this weekend, Guardiola is still likely to rotate his side slightly between the double-header with Tottenham.
Kevin De Bruyne was surprisingly named on the bench against Spurs on Tuesday and appears certain to start at Selhurst Park, while Gabriel Jesus could be recalled to give Sergio Aguero – far from his best in North London – a breather.
In terms of the hosts, James Tomkins injured his groin against Newcastle and is considered a serious doubt for this one.
Serbian midfielder Milivojevic has scored 10 penalty goals in the Premier League this season – only Andrew Johnson (11 in 2004-05, also with Crystal Palace) has netted more from the spot in a single campaign.
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, Van Aanholt; Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Batshuayi, Zaha
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D.Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
Head To Head
Palace are aiming to complete the top-flight double over Man City for the first time since the 1972-73 campaign following their 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium towards the end of last year.
The last non-big six side to beat the Citizens twice in the same Premier League season were Everton in 2010-11.
Man City have won five of their last seven league matches against the Eagles, but they have not beaten their opponents in their last two encounters.
We say: Palace 0-1 Man City
This trip to Selhurst Park has come at an awkward time for Guardiola, and arguably the perfect time for Palace. The Citizens suffered a rare defeat in midweek and will have one eye on their return match against Spurs, while Palace have a full week’s rest behind them and come into the game on the back of a win at Newcastle. However, the Eagles’ home form is pretty underwhelming and the visitors – no matter how many changes they make – should still be able to carve out the win.