The first international break of the young season is over. At the time of writing, those glorious men in sky blue will take to the field again in less than 11 hours. Boy does it feel good. After all, the United States men’s team isn’t all that exciting. Let’s preview the match.
What’s Up For Grabs
Manchester City, as we all know, are top of the league by three points and a whole lot of goal difference going into this one. What wasn’t expected was Crystal Palace to be the team that are second in the league. More on that later, but this team isn’t bad. With City’s nearest title challenger, Man United, 5 points being the Blues and hosting Liverpool, this could be a good time to add on. Include the fact that United, Liverpool, and Arsenal are all level on points, and this match seems like a good opportunity to construct a gap that might prove advantageous later on in the year.
Who We Are Facing
Crystal Palace away is going to be no easy task. They aren’t second in this incredibly tough league for no reason, after all. Yohan Cabaye has been crucial in their midfield after being snapped up from Ligue 1 champions PSG; Bakary Sako has been electric down the wings, especially against Chelsea; and Alex McCarthy showing off good reactions in big derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea. These new additions, coupled with Alan Pardew’s interesting tactics, have been tough to handle for many Premier League sides.
Keys to the Game
In reality, all City has to do is to make sure that they stifle Palace’s counterattacks. They have raw pace with Sako, Yannick Bolasie, and Dwight Gayle. Yohan Cabaye is also a decent distributor of the ball, so City’s line will have to be held high. Defensively the backline isn’t top class, and they’ve shipped 6 goals in 5 matches already this year. No clean sheets for the Selhurst Park faithful.
For City, a key to the match will be to handle the temporary absence of David Silva. El Mago is out with an ankle injury, and that will pave the way for either Samir Nasri or Kevin De Bruyne to step into the side. Both should be able to slide in well, but chemistry with both Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero will be key. I think that the two will share time together behind the striker, as squad fitness will be something that gaffer Manuel Pellegrini keeps an eye on, with Tuesday’s clash of the titans in the Champions League between City and Juventus, at the Etihad, of course.
Last Time Out
I remember that last year this match was an Easter Monday game. I was up in Canada, visiting family, and they didn’t watch football. The good old Ian Cheeseman called the match, and City fell to a 2-1 defeat at Selhurst. I remember that the first was result of a questionable offside call, and Yaya blazed one into the top corner (?) for a late consolation. That just summed up City’s season, to be honest.
City: David Silva (ankle), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Gael Clichy (ankle), Pablo Zabaleta (knee)
Earlier on in the week there were concerns about Bacary Sagna’s availability, as he was taken off at the half during a recent France friendly. However, Pellegrini has confirmed that he is fit to play, and so the in-form fullback will have another stage to shine on.
Crystal Palace: Joel Ward (knee), Marouane Chamakh. Doubtful: Connor Wickham
My XI: Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernando, Touré; Nasri, De Bruyne, Sterling; Agüero.
Scoreline: 2-1 to the Blues!
C’mon City! (In a hoarse Manc voice)