Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Preview: Citizens expected to dominate at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Preview: Citizens expected to dominate at Selhurst Park

Pep Guardiola's side will hope to find faults in stuttering Palace

Sam Smith

Crystal Palace’s poor form will be expected to continue when high-flying Manchester City visit Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Citizens have been superb for most of the season but their consistency remains their only downfall.

The Eagles, however, started well but now seem worryingly reminiscent of the side that slumped to a 14-game winless run last season.

Season so far

Palace lost their opening two games against West Brom and Tottenham Hotspur but the arrival of Christian Benteke gave them a much-needed boost – his signing coinciding with a five-match unbeaten run.

The October international break came at a bad time, though. Alan Pardew’s side have failed to pick up a point, losing to West Ham, Leicester City and Liverpool before defeat to Burnley which saw them claw back from 2-0 down but lose the game in the dying moments.

Pardew is now under pressure. Last season’s woes were clouded over by the sensational run to the FA Cup final but with very little for Palace fans to shout about, the former Newcastle United boss needs to find a winning formula.

Palace spent around £60 million in the summer to bolster their squad and it’s heavily questionable whether a return on the investment is being seen. James Tomkins has had a mixed start to the season due to ongoing injury issues while Andros Townsend has flattered to deceive. The latter's recent England appearances could give him the confidence that he has seemed to lack at times this season. Only Benteke, the club’s record signing, has lived up to expectations although Steve Mandanda has displayed flashes of his best.

Meanwhile, Man City have been one of the more aesthetically pleasing teams this season. Pep Guardiola’s arrival was a real sign of intent from the Citizens, who had failed to maintain a serious title challenge in the two previous campaigns.

Defeat to Tottenham and a draw with Middlesbrough have been the only lowlights of a season in which they will consider themselves favourites to win the Premier League title.

They appeared to be invincible at the start of the campaign, winning their first six fixtures including the Manchester derby. The defeat at White Hart Lane in match week seven was a shock to the system and caused a slight slump; winning just one of their four domestic games since.

The highlight of their season so far came in the Champions League, blowing away Barcelona at the Etihad with summer signing Ilkay Gundogan starring in a 3-1 win.

Gundogan (right) scored a brace in City's thrilling 3-1 win over Barcelona | Photo: Getty images 

Key players

Man City will be expected to dominate the game against a cagey Palace. The Eagles’ back four will have to be much better than it has been since the start of the season and will rely on Scott Dann to rekindle the form he produced last campaign.

The Palace captain has had a difficult start to the season due to injuries, poor form and the lack of a permanent defensive partner – all three at the detriment to Palace’s defensive performances.

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero has earned his place back in the City team after failing to impress Guardiola at the beginning of the season. the Argentine was mysteriously dropped in the Champions League game away to Barcelona which the Citizens ended up losing 5-0.

Aguero was in good form prior to the international break, scoring twice against West Brom before a neat finish put his side in front against ‘Boro, only for Marten de Roon to equalise deep in injury time.

Team news

Pardew confirmed that Mandanda will miss the game with a knee injury received on international duty with France. The goalkeeper is the only fresh absentee, with Pape Souare, Jonathan Benteke and Loic Remy still out with long-term issues.

Guardiola is without Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph