After the international break Palace welcome reigning champions Manchester City to Selhurst Park.
After what has been a strong start to the season The Eagles will now face a challenging run that could push them down from their lofty perch in sixth place. This run starts with a match against the winner of the last two Premier League Trophies, the Citizens of Manchester City. After getting seven points from their last three games The Eagles will come into this game with confidence in front of what will surely be a buzzing home crowd.
Another reason for The Eagles to have some confidence is the shaky nature of Manchester City in recent matches. Despite sitting in second place Manchester City have lost two of their last four matches and find themselves eight points back in the title race from Liverpool. These losses have not be to great teams either, with an away loss at Norwich City and a home loss to Wolves making the fans in the North restless. In fact the loss at the Etihad in City’s last match was the first time they had suffered defeat there since The Eagles last visit when Andros Townsend shocked the champions with a volleyed strike that condemned them to defeat.
Roy Hodgson is not one to make dramatic changes to his line-up, especially when the team is playing well. Therefore expect a line-up similar to those rolled out in recent weeks to be deployed. The change that is to be expected is the return of club captain Luka Milivojević to the midfield and the return of James McCarthy to the bench. Andros Townsend also has a case for inclusion as he has impressed coming off the bench in the last few weeks and was instrumental in Jordan Ayew’s winning goal against West Ham. Despite the duo of James Tomkins and Christian Benteke signing new contracts this week expect them to be limited to spots on the bench with the impressive play of Martin Kelly and Ayew keeping them out of the first eleven.
There is a reason that Manchester City have won the Premier League two seasons in a row, the squad is full of world class players with a world class manager. Players such as Raheem Sterling, Ederson, Sergio Agüero, Bernardo Silva, and Kevin De Bruyne are all viewed as some of the best at their respective positions playing the game today. The team’s greatest strength comes in attack where Premier League legend Agüero refuses to slow down as he ages with a league leading eight goals this season. The squad should also receive a boost this week in the form of the return of centre-back John Stones to fitness.
One of the reasons for the intermittent struggles Man City have faced has been due to their problems at centre-back. Frenchman and regular starter Aymeric Laporte suffered a serious knee injury and his usual partner John Stones has only appeared in two matches this season. This has forced midfielder Fernandinho to partner with Nicolás Otamendi in the heart of the defense with mixed results. Fernandinho is a great player and has been key to the Citizen’s success in recent years but is out of position in defence. Otamendi meanwhile has struggledimmensely this season and it will be interesting to see which of the players maintain their place if Stones can play this weekend. This weakness at the back could provide opportunities for the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew to pounce on mistakes that would not usually be available.
The formation that Hodgson lines his team up in combined with their style of play make them a very difficult team to break down. This has provided a recipe for success in recent years as the top teams become frustrated with a lack of breakthrough and can leave holes at the back as they push the attack. The major key for Palace will be capitalizing on chances that are presented as they will likely be few and far between. This will be a tough match to get a result from as City will be looking for a statement win to bounce back from last matchday’s defeat, but Palace can emerge with something if they limit their mistakes and take advantage of their opponents.