Premier League table toppers Manchester City are home to a team that has caused them troubles in previous years. Here is a preview.
Manchester City can retain their slight advantage at the summit of the Premier League standings with a testing home encounter against Crystal Palace. The Citizens completed the league double over their counterparts last season after they could not beat them across the two fixtures in 2021/22.
Nevertheless, Bernardo Silva and an Erling Haaland hat-trick secured a stunning second-half turnaround as Pep Guardiola’s men defeated the Eagles 4-2 the last time they met at the Etihad Stadium.
After the treble triumph, the Sky Blues look good this term as they plot another glorious assault on all the top honors in European football.
Manchester City began the season with usual control as Burnley, Newcastle, Sheffield United, and Fulham were all beaten in their first four league matches. They scored three times in the second period to win 3-1 at West Ham, and the next game also saw them defeat Nottingham Forest 2-0 despite losing key man Rodri to a sending-off.
The Spanish midfielder’s absence put a dent in City’s impenetrable standards. Their next three games in domestic play all ended in defeats to Newcastle, Wolves, and Arsenal, who finally stole a march on their title rivals.
However, a 2-1 win against Brighton put paid to that run as they thrashed Manchester United 3-0 in the first Derby of the season. Things got even better when they ran Bournemouth ragged in a Jeremy Doku-inspired 6-1 win, taking them back to the standings.
They will now look to build on that advantage as the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool have begun to drop points. The challenges of defending City’s Premier League title are getting tougher each year, and the aim will be to keep their place ahead of the chasing pack.
City have a solid winning streak in front of their home crowd, which must be upheld when they face a stubborn Palace side.
Roy Hodgson’s team has been dealt with injury blows to their best players all season yet fared well as they hold a reasonable tenth position on the log. The South Londoners have kept the joint-most clean sheets at the time of writing to show their continued resilience under the veteran manager.
The season began for Palace with a win over Sheffield United thanks to Odsonne Edouard’s goal, but they could only get one point from the next two matches against Arsenal and Brentford. After getting the better of Wolves 3-2, they were on their way to back-to-back victories until Aston Villa rallied to a 3-1 win late at Villa Park.
That defeat coerced three successive shutouts for Palace as they secured five points from games against Fulham, Manchester United, and Nottingham Forest. Although they were winless against Newcastle and Tottenham, the Eagles bounced back with Jeffrey Schlupp and Tyrick Mitchell finding the net in a 2-nil win at Burnley.
They may be lukewarm against mid-table Premier League opposition, but the Glaziers are at their best when lined up against the best teams in the country. Hence, they will be well organized with plans to have a go at the City backline.
A result in Manchester will represent a massive scalp for Palace, and they must be in tip-top form on the day. The return of some key players could also be crucial in those hopes. Overall, it must be a disciplined team effort to get anything from this fixture, and the visitors will know what is required.
This game takes place on Saturday, 16 December 2023, with kick-off set for 4 PM UK time. On their website, Man City confirmed that tickets are currently sold out, so fans can only buy returned copies.
Meanwhile, the visitors are set to be backed by their considerable traveling support, but Manchester City vs Crystal Palace tickets may be tough to find through official channels. Anyone desperate to visit the Etihad Stadium for the game may be lucky to find a match ticket on resale sites.
Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring) remains the Cityzens’ only long-term injury casualty, with a return date marked for next year.
On the other hand, Palace has had to deal with a long list of absentees, but only Dean Henderson (thigh) and James Tomkins (calf) are currently ruled out.
Eberechi Eze (hamstring) and Michael Olise (hamstring) have returned to team training. Hodgson will be delighted to have his attacking gems fully fit and firing to face the defending champions.
Jeremy Doku is blossoming in the Sky Blue of City, and his direct but effective dribbling would cause trouble for the visitors. Indeed, he should be able to slice open the Palace defense at will, and it is left for his teammates - most notably a big Norwegian - to benefit.
Arguably, no Premier League midfielder screens a defense better than Rodri, who will be again influential as he is tasked with halting Palace’s counter-attacking moves as they develop.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Stones, Ake; Rodri; Silva, Alvarez, Foden, Doku; Haaland
Palace could be bolstered by the returns of key players, which gives them a greater chance of hurting the hosts. Therefore, a frontline that includes the likes of Eze, Olise, and Odsonne Edouard will have a realistic chance of producing the firepower needed to upset City.
Crystal Palace: Johnstone; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Lerma, Doucoure, Eze; Ayew, Edouard, Schlupp
Given the relentless schedule of the festive season, the stakes could be high for both sides going into this fixture. While Palace would be rock solid in their defensive shape, hoping to hit City with lightning-quick moves, the hosts know they must convert their chances early to settle into the game and control proceedings.
Even so, the Manchester outfit has too much quality in their frontline to overpower Palace despite what should be a keenly-contested match.
Man City 3-0 Crystal Palace