Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City to the danger that Crystal Palace's "four amazing strikers" especially that of Wilfried Zaha, as The Citizens look to match a European record in Sunday's lunchtime clash.
When he is not on the pitch, they could not win
Selhurst Park will have played host to two of the Premier League's in-form sides in the recent weeks and months, with The Citizens storming away with the Premier League title heading into the next round of fixtures with a 15-point gap over nearest rivals Manchester United.
They head into the clash looking to match the European record of 19 consecutive league wins held by Guardiola's Bayern Munich, but face a tough test in The Eagles whose ship has been steadied since the arrival of Roy Hodgson.
The Eagles' eight-game unbeaten record came to an end midweek with the 3-2 defeat to Arsenal, but in the final clash of 2017 Guardiola has warned about the dangers the likes of Zaha can bring.
"What counts is what we have to do against Crystal Palace and the four amazing strikers they have," Guardiola cautiously stated in his pre-match press conference. "They can all create big chances and be prepared for what Zaha can do."
"When Zaha was not on the pitch Crystal Palace could not win," the coach stated on the Ivory Coast international's influence. "From the first nine games they had zero points when Zaha was not there (injured)."
"[From] the moment he came back the team changed and he is a guy who can turn the game," the Catalan proclaimed. "He won a lot of points [for Palace] himself. Selhurst Park is a complicated stadium to go to - that is what I have been concerned about."
"Sooner or later we are going to drop points," Guardiola added. "And then we will see how we react in that moment."
Cannot imagine our situation without him
There has been many standout performers for City throughout the last few months with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sané and David Silva taking many of the plaudits, but as good as their attack has been their defence has been even better conceding only 12 goals thus far.
That has come despite some significant injuries in the backline with John Stones' long-term injury and Vincent Kompany's lack of consistent fitness, this has seen a step up in performances from Nicolás Otamendi and Guardiola praised the "superman" efforts of the Argentine defender
“We have a superman in the team,” he said on the Argentine. “Otamendi helped us absolutely. If I would like to point to a player who deserves respect for what we have done so far this season, it is Otamendi."
“Always fighting. He is a huge competitor and one of the best I have seen in my life," the coach stated to the gathered press. "So important. Without him, it would have been impossible.”
“Being a central defender in our team is not easy,” the boss stated. "They have to do more than just defending. It is so demanding. This kind of thing can only happen when you are brave and have courage."
“People thought we couldn’t do these things," Guardiola concluded. "Nico is reading the situations. Where to pass the ball, when to play it and I am really impressed."