So, here we are. City is in fourth place and reaping the benefit of dropped points, an oft-maligned back four, lack of finishing and overall lackadaisical play. By giving up position to Manchester United and Arsenal, the Blues are now a distant nine points behind Chelsea whom also have a game in hand. The international break not only brings players time to heal, but rumours to swirl about who will stay, who will go, and who will be coming in during the offseason. But, we’ve still got eight more weeks of league play, and that’s 24 potential points for City to not only solidify their top four spot, and as Manuel Pelligrini said on Friday, “finish as high up on the table as possible.”
What Could Go Right
The last time Manchester City and Palace met was in December, City scored on all three shots they had on target; and with the Eagles poor defense and recent form at home, one could say that there’s a strong chance City could come away with the win and in the mix for the title race. Of course, that win was prior to the arrival of Alan Pardew, who has Palace playing fairly well. Second place would be on the cards, and going into next weekend’s Manchester Derby, the Blues need to have some momentum against a United squad who seemingly has found their rhythm. Pelligrini has mentioned that all players are healthy aside from James Milner, who has a slight niggle in his knee, so expect a full squad to face Palace. Look for a bit of inspiration from Pablo Zabaleta as well, who with his wife, recently celebrated the birth of his first child.
What Could Go Wrong
Much in the vein of their previous opponents who on paper seem to be no match for the Blues, City often seems to have a lack of respect for lesser sides. But, Crystal Palace are the type of team that give City issues, especially with their quick players up front in Wilfried Zaha, Puncheon and Bolasie, a solid counter attacking gameplan could unravel an already fragile City defense. Worst case scenario, a loss would keep City in fourth place, and a draw would leave them level on points with United, but ahead on goal difference going into Sunday’s derby.
Manchester City hasn’t lost a game away to Palace since 2001, and coming off a solid win, decent rest and motivation to excel, don’t doubt the Blues. While they haven’t played championship football for parts of the year, they’re still a championship winning side.
Hart, Zabaleta, Mangala, Kompany, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Nasri, Bony, Aguero
Caballero, Demichelis, Kolarov, Sagna, Lampard, Fernando, Dzeko