The Big Match Preview – Crystal Palace vs Manchester City (Premier League)

Here it is Blues, the dreaded run of fixtures is now in full swing. City’s soul-crushing defeat at the hands of Spurs in the Champions League on Tuesday must be put to the back of our minds as we head to the always-tricky Selhurst Park for a clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday….

It’s back to the Premier League and time to focus on retaining our title. With Liverpool facing Chelsea in what is likely to be the only game they might drop points in, it’s time to avenge our Palace burdens and put the pressure back on our red Merseyside rivals.

Amongst the many games against Spurs and a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon, it can be forgiven that the Palace game may have slipped under the radar for some. In reality, this game might be equally a tough as those games against the top six.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22: Andros Townsend of Crystal Palace celebrates as the full time whistle is blown as Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at Etihad Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As Blues know, Palace is somewhat of a bogey team for us at the moment with them coming an Ederson penalty save away from ending our unbeaten run last season, whilst almost breaking several players legs in the process. Then, of course, there is the small matter of their shock 3-2 win at the Etihad earlier this season, featuring an Andros Townsend strike which I will be amazed, and annoyed, if it doesn’t go on to win goal of the season.

Win that 3-2 defeat in the back of the mind, I was surprised to see Pep switch it up when selecting the Spurs side. It shows that the boss isn’t taking this game lightly and views Palace has an incredibly tough game. A loss and a defeat in our last two meetings with Palace means that work needs to be done to ensure we don’t lose our grip on the title.

Palace, however, are a difficult side to unpick this season. Sat comfortably in 12th, they haven’t been particularly special this year and their home form isn’t as good as it has been previously. Although, they always seem to up their game against us and with little to play for in terms of league position, I’m sure Hodgson has a plan up his sleeve in order to give his former employers a boost for the run-in.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – JANUARY 05: Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson shows his dejection during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool at Ewood park on January 5, 2011 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It’s clear that any slip ups now would prove incredibly costly. City are still fighting on all fronts and with bigger teams on the horizon, any complacency against a threatening Palace side could be the end of the road for title retention.

Whether Bernardo and Zinchenko will be back in contention is yet to be seen. Pep alluded to it in his press conference but the return of a fully functional left-back may prove decisive in what could be a torrid afternoon if Fabian Delph gets selected again. Even more so, the influence, control and creation of Bernardo Silva could be a huge boost for City going into such an important fixture.

Either way, Liverpool and their media pals will be watching on with great intent as City face one of their toughest tasks of recent weeks. A win could be huge for momentum and confidence going into three season-defining games, whereas a loss could be de-rail the season.

Though I’m going for a 1-1 draw with goals from Townsend and De Bruyne, let’s all back the Boys in Blue and come away from London (again!) with another three points. Win, lose or draw… roll on Sunday.

You can follow the author on Twitter here:@DavidHartley21

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