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Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace, Premier League: Players to Watch

The four players to keep an eye on this weekend

Crystal Palace v Watford - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Manchester City return to Premier League action on Saturday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium against Crystal Palace, and the Blues are certainly heavy favorites to win this one easily.

Since the start of September, City have won all four of their matches with 17 goals scored and just one conceded. Palace, on the other hand, became the first team in the history of England’s top flight to have zero points and zero goals after the first five league games of the season.

Roy Hodgson came in and got his first win as Palace manager in the League Cup match against Huddersfield Town in midweek, so the Eagles come into this one with a little bit of confidence. Palace will need a big performance to get any kind of result against the Blues, and below we’ve selected a few players worth keeping an eye on this weekend.

Mamadou Sakho

The French defender impressed greatly while on loan at Selhurst Park in the second half of last season, and Palace managed to make his move from Liverpool permanent in the last day of the summer transfer window. Sakho was recovering from a knee injury over the last few months, but he’ll be fit to make his first start of the season against City.

Sakho was one of the major contributors in Palace’s survival last season, and once again he’ll need to be at the top of his game to add strength to the Eagles defense as they try to avoid relegation this season. City will attack for the whole 90 minutes this Saturday, and Sakho will be key if Palace are able to get a result at the Etihad.

Vincent Kompany

Another strong defender who could be ready to make his return from injury on Saturday is City captain Vincent Kompany, who missed the last three weeks with a calf problem. The Belgian has taken part in training for the last several days, and Pep Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference that Vinny is ready to come back.

If he starts, Kompany will need to be able to deal with the pace and strength of his fellow countryman Christian Benteke up front, and it’d be nice if Vinny could score another goal like he did against Palace at the Etihad last season:

What a strike!

Christian Benteke

We touched on the Belgian striker when talking about Kompany, and Benteke will need to rediscover the form he shown at the start of 2017 to help Palace get points. Under Sam Allardyce we saw the best of Benteke: able to win many aerial duels, use his pace to beat defenders and score goals with his killer instinct.

Because Palace will come to the Etihad to defend and get a 0-0 draw there’ll be limited service for Benteke on Saturday, so he’ll need to make the best of the few chances he might have. We’ve already seen he can score goals for fun in the Premier League, so if he can get off the mark and get a shocking goal at the Etihad, he could give Palace a season-changing result.

Kevin De Bruyne

This game is filled with Belgians who can have an impact, and the one who’s most likely to be a major factor in the result is De Bruyne. The City superstar was rested against West Bromwich Albion and is no doubt eager to come back and continue the incredible form he’s enjoying in the month of September.

Kevin had four assists in his last three starts, and his passing prowess this season has gone to another level. Along with David Silva, De Bruyne owns midfield and his ability to control the game and pick passes to find runners will be crucial for City this weekend against a parked Palace bus. If De Bruyne is at his best again, this won’t be a tough game for City.