Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

Verdict: Manchester City and over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

In the final round of Premier League fixtures in 2017, Manchester City will look to edge ever closer to setting a top-flight record of consecutive wins. Still unbeaten domestically, Pep Guardiola’s side will travel to southeast London and meet a Crystal Palace side who’s eight-match unbeaten run came to an end on Thursday night.

Crystal Palace

After losing their first seven Premier League matches on the bounce, without registering a single goal in return, it was no surprise that Crystal Palace were tipped as this year’s relegation favorites. However, as the New Year fast approaches, under the guidance of former England boss Roy Hodgson, Palace have managed to turn their fortunes around. Although the Eagles eight-match unbeaten run may have come to an end on Thursday night, Palace put up a resilient performance against Arsenal. Losing 3-2 at Selhurst Park, the Palace boss will feel disappointed to not have left with more than a point after his side missed a string of late chances. Currently sat 16th in the table, Palace are still only a single point above the drop zone and know they’re still not out of the woods.

A key part in the Eagles dramatic turnaround around has been their form at Selhurst Park. Thursday night’s loss to Arsenal was their first home defeat in seven matches. Palace have also managed to pick up their longest top-flight run in almost two decades. Despite Belgium international striker Christian Benteke only picking up three goals in his last 26 home appearances, Palace have managed to improve in the final third. With talisman Wilfred Zaha the Eagles star man, Palace are averaging at least two home goals per game this year and have already beaten Watford, Chelsea, and Stoke in the past two months. Despite improving their fortunes in front of goal, Hodgson will be desperate to improve of the Eagles defensive issues. Shipping three against Arsenal in midweek, Palace have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 home matches.

Team News

Crystal Palace’s Yohan Cabaye is a doubt for Sunday’s encounter after suffering a knock in the defeat by Arsenal. Should the midfielder not be passed fit to start, he is expected to be replaced by James McArthur, who took his place as a substitute during Thursday’s fixture.

Joel Ward has been struggling with a groin problem, but he could yet return to contention.

Manchester City

Still undefeated domestically, Pep Guardiola’s side are staking a claim for the greatest Premier League side in history. Marching on to 18 Premier League wins on the bounce, City have not dropped a single point since the opening game of the season. Picking up a 1-0 win away at Newcastle, although the Citizens may not have scored their customary four goals, City were still at their dominant best. City have now moved 15 points clear at the top of the table, the highest lead entering the New Year in Premier League history. Winning 10 consecutive away games, a win for City on Sunday afternoon will see the blue half of Manchester match the record winning run in one of Europe’s top five leagues. A record that is currently held by Bayern Munich in 2014, a side who were also managed by Pepe Guardiola.

For City, their dominance has been shown across the pitch. Already scoring 61 goals in their 20 Premier League appearances, City are averaging over three goals per game and also boast the best goalscoring record in the league. City’s success has been highlighted by the form of a revitalized Raheem Sterling. Already with 13 league goals this season, the 23-year-old is the clubs top scorer and has scored four goals in his last three matches. Along with boasting the best-attacking record in the league, City also hold the best defensive record in England’s top flight. Only conceding 12 goals, the Citizens have only shipped a single Premier League goal in their last four appearances.

Team News

Kompany’s calf injury is not as bad as feared while left-back Delph could return after a minor muscle problem. Centre-back Stones is now back in training after 11 games out with a hamstring injury and closing on a return.

The availability of David Silva, who has missed three of the last four games for personal reasons, is unclear while left-back Benjamin Mendy (knee) and midfielder Phil Foden (ankle) are out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Manchester City have won 14 of their last 15 matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
  • City have won their last two games against Crystal Palace by a 5-0 scoreline, The Citizens have also kept a clean sheet in seven of their last nine Premier League games against Crystal Palace.
  • Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 league games at home.
  • Christian Benteke has scored in just three of his 26 league appearances at Selhurst Park for Palace.
  • Victory for City in this match will see them equal the record winning run in one of Europe’s top five leagues – Bayern Munich, managed by Pep Guardiola, won 19 consecutively in the 2013/14 season.

Conclusion

With the Eagles famously struggling against Manchester City, it is hard to see them causing major upsets against the runaway league leaders. Already averaging over three league goals per game, the Citizen’s will feel confident about matching Bayern Munich’s record for most consecutive wins. Despite Palace improving their fortunes in front of goal, Hodgson’s sides have failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last 10 home appearances. After putting five past Palace the last two times the sides have met, backing Manchester City and over 3.5 goals seems like a logical bet at Selhurst Park.

Verdict: Manchester City and over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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