Manchester City take on Crystal Palace this afternoon as they attempt to keep pace with leaders Chelsea. City will go top of the table if they beat Palace and Chelsea lose at Newcastle and Liverpool drop points at home to Brighton and face a Palace side that have won only once at City since 1987.
The blues will be looking for a repeat of last season’s encounter, when the blues beat the Eagles 4-0 in January.
City were fourth in the league, four points behind leaders United, and had won the last four league matches, making up the ground on the reds. Palace were in 13th place, with Roy Hodgson’s men having won just six of their eighteen games, but were still well clear of the relegation zone.
Palace had taken four points off City in their last two visits but were outclassed by the blues as John Stones grabbed a brace. Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling also scored in the second half to give the blues an emphatic victory.
City dominated the match, taking 72% possession over the ninety minutes, and took a deserved lead through the head of Stones on 26 minutes. The goal came from a wonderful delivery by Kevin de Bruyne, who controlled Sterling’s pass with his first touch, before delivering a cross with the outside of his right foot with his second.
The ball into the box was met by a perfectly timed run by Stones, who guided the ball beyond Vicente Guaita. It was the ball from de Bruyne that was the talking point as the Belgian expertly curled the cross round and over the visiting defence, and Stones rose highest to convert.
City continued to press and, considering Palace’s last-minute equaliser the previous season, needed the comfort of a second goal, and Gundogan duly obliged. A City corner was cleared out of the penalty area and collected by a Palace defender, who dithered on the ball, allowing Gundogan to dispossess him. The German star had only one thing on his mind and curled his shot from the edge of the area and into the top corner for 2-0.
Twelve minutes later, Stones got his second and City’s third. Another City corner was met by the head of Ruben Dias, but his goalbound effort was saved by Guaita, but the rebound fell to Stones, and the Barnsley Beckenbauer swept home for 3-0.
With two minutes remaining, City got their fourth of the afternoon. A free kick on the edge of the Palace penalty area left numerous candidates fancying it. In the end it was left to Sterling, and the England man curled home past the keeper and into the top corner.
With Liverpool and United playing out a goalless draw earlier in the day, the result sent City into second place in the league, just two points behind United with a game in hand.
Final score: Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace