Pep Guardiola has been very careful with managing his players’ minutes throughout this busy period, and thankfully we’re coming to end of it and the Manchester City manager will have to rotate just two more times. After the trip to Palace, City face Watford at home just two days later so expect the boss to make a few changes for this game and the next one.
But Pep already rotated against Newcastle in midweek, and with three days to recover and rest after the trip to St. James’ Park it is safe to expect Guardiola to select a strong lineup on Sunday. We’ll probably see Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala and Fabian Delph in defense, with Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho and the returning David Silva in midfield; up front, Gabriel Jesus is likely to start with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané on the wings.
Then again, Pep could prioritize the Watford game and go with players like Danilo, Yaya Touré, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva against Palace, so we really have to wait and see with this one.
Predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sané
Bitter and Blue XI (as chosen by you!):
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Sterling, Agüero, Sané
If we’re not sure whether or not Guardiola will rotate his side, we can be absolutely certain that will happen with Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace. The Eagles faced Arsenal on Thursday, will play City on Sunday and then travel Southampton on Tuesday. It’s impossible to play the same side three times in six days, and it’s very fair to assume Hodgson looks at Southampton as a better opportunity for three points (or even one) than City.
Rafa Benítez used the same strategy on Wednesday, and he nearly got a draw out of it. Play a weaker side, be very organized and try to get a point while resting your most important players may be the best strategy for Premier League teams battling relegation when facing City this season, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Hodgson gave a day off to players like Jeffrey Schlupp, Yohan Cabaye, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, who have all been crucial to the team’s good form in recent months.
Predicted XI: Speroni; Fosu-Mensah, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic; Townsend, McArthur, Riedewald, Puncheon; Sako