For the first time in four months, Manchester City have not won a Premier League game. The Blues had a mediocre performance in their last game of 2017 and could not find the back of the net on a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The result ends a streak of 18 consecutive league wins for Pep Guardiola and his men, but City are still 14 points clear at the top of the table with 17 matches left. The bad news is that Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne left with serious injuries, and the final game of 2017 may have a huge effect on all of 2018.
This definitely wasn’t the most brilliant first half of City’s season. The Blues had over 70% possession and 300 passes as they usually do, but things just weren’t clicking. The final balls were off, the runs were poor and the finishing was awful. The best chance came with a deflected shot from Sergio Agüero that hit the post, but that was about it from City.
Palace had a completely different strategy from City’s recent opponents and had a real go, putting big pressure on the Blues defense and forcing Ederson into some difficult interventions throughout the half. Neither team was able to find a goal, though, but both had a serious injury to a key player: Palace lost Scott Dann to a knee injury after he fouled Kevin De Bruyne, and Gabriel Jesus was forced off with what looks like a really bad injury to his left knee.
At halftime, a poor performance from the Blues had them flirting with a draw or even a loss. Things really needed to improve in the second half for the win to come.
City did improve in the second half, using the ball better and creating a lot of clear chances thanks to good passing and movement. Wayne Hennessey became a hero for Palace with a couple of amazing saves, and Palace very nearly got the win when a cross from Wilfried Zaha found Andros Townsend all alone in the box, but the winger somehow got the ball over the bar in one of the worst misses of the season.
Despite not getting the winning goal, Palace were more than happy with the draw and made an effort late in the game to stay compact defensively and not concede any real chances to the visitors. Their plan worked and they got a chance to win it in stoppage time when Raheem Sterling brought Zaha down in the box, but Ederson made a tremendous penalty save with his foot to keep City in the game.
This is obviously not a great result, but the gap over Chelsea is now 14 points. It’s sad that the streak is over, but it had to end at some point. At least we didn’t lose.
City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan (Sterling); Bernardo (Touré), Jesus (Agüero), Sané
Palace: Hennessey; Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Dann (Kelly), v.Aanholt; Cabaye (Puncheon), Milivojevic, Riedewald; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha