Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 2/7
Manchester City are fighting to secure a UEFA Champions League berth for the upcoming season, but they are set to face a tough opponent this weekend. In the game that will kick Saturday’s action in the Premier League, the Citizens will host a needy Crystal Palace side that also need the three points to take another step toward avoiding a potential relegation to the Championship.
It is safe to say Manchester City have not lived up to the expectations this season. However, Pep Guardiola’s men control their own fate when it comes to securing a berth in the UEFA Champions League next season. The Citizens are coming off a disappointing draw against Middlesbrough, and they know they can’t lose anymore if they want to maintain in fourth place. Manchester United is breathing on their neck, and everything indicates it will be a tight race to see which team reaches the Champions League playoff berth. Guardiola’s boys are coming off two straight draws at the league level, and another result that is not a win in this game could complicate their chances to reach the Champions League.
Claudio Bravo will miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. Ilkay Gündogan continues his rehabilitation process, and Fabian Delph has been ruled out as well.
Meanwhile, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and John Stones are doubtful. All three will require a late-fitness test to determine whether they can play or not, but recent reports have indicated neither would be included on the starting XI.
Crystal Palace have not secured their berth in the Premier League for next season, something that should make the fans nervous considering they will face one of the most talented sides in the league this Saturday. They are coming off a disappointing 0-2 loss to Burnley at home, so they have to bounce back as soon as possible. But this game does not look like the best chance to do so. After all, Sam Allardyce’s men have lost their past two meetings against the Citizens. They lost 0-3 in the FA Cup, and also dropped their meeting earlier this season with a 1-2 defeat at home. To make things even more complicated, they only have one win in their last four Premier League contests.
Crystal Palace will be quite weakened on the defensive end. Mamadou Sakho, Pape Ndiaye Souare, and Scott Dann are out due to injuries. Sakho and Dann were important pieces at the back, and there is no question they will be missed.
Striker Connor Wickham is out with a knee ligament injury as well. Meanwhile, Yohan Cabaye and Jonathan Benteke are doubtful, and will likely require a late-fitness test to determine their availability.
Key Factors to Consider
- Manchester City have won 12 of their last 13 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- The Citizens have also won their past five matches against Palace, including the last two at Etihad Stadium
- Palace’s last win against City came during the 2014-15 season (2-1 at home)
- Manchester City are riding a three-game winless streak (2D 1L) across all competitions,
- Crystal Palace are coming off two straight losses at the Premier League, and have been shutout on both games (against Burnley and Tottenham)
Both teams need the three points. However, Manchester City are clearly the better side, and they know they can’t afford to drop any more points at home. Even though they will miss several important players, Crystal Palace’s defence will miss two regular starters as well. Expect City to cruise and secure the win in this pivotal match.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 2/7
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