The title race continues at pace as Manchester City travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Eagles have caused Pep Guardiola’s side a few headaches in recent times, and Arsenal fans will be hoping they can do the same again. We preview the clash and reveal the Opta supercomputer’s pre-match prediction.
The Quick Hits:
- Manchester City with a 62.5% chance of winning on Saturday, according to our pre-match prediction.
- A win would see them cut the gap to Arsenal at the top of the league to two points.
- Crystal Palace set to extend their winless run to 10 Premier League games – could they get dragged into a relegation scuffle?
Crystal Palace have caused Manchester City some serious problems of late. The Eagles took four points off them across their league fixtures in 2021-22 – winning 2-0 at the Etihad before holding the Cityzens to a 0-0 draw at home – and they were 45 minutes away from rocking the boat once again earlier in the season.
In fact, such has been Palace’s resilience against City that they’ve avoided defeat in five of their 13 Premier League meetings with Pep Guardiola’s Man City; only Liverpool (nine), Tottenham Hotspur (eight) and Man Utd (seven) have avoided defeat more often against City than the Eagles since Pep joined.
That said, it’s away from home where Crystal Palace have enjoyed the most success against City. The Eagles are winless in their last seven English Premier League home games Pep’s side (D2 L5) in a run going back to a 2-1 win in April 2015. They’ve failed to score in five of these seven games, including each of the last three.
And a lack of potency in attack has been the Eagles’ biggest weakness this season. Patrick Vieira’s side have generated the second-lowest expected goals total (23.0) in the entire division so far, with only bottom-placed Bournemouth (21.9) creating lower-quality chances. A lack of creativity up front has resulted in just two goals in their last six home league games.
Given Manchester City have the best defensive record in the league – their expected goals against of 21.8 is the lowest of all sides – chances will be at a premium for the home side. There’s a chance that Pep will rotate (when does he not?) with the second leg of their Champions League tie against RB Leipzig coming the following midweek. City would join Chelsea in the quarter-finals if they were to get past the Bundesliga side.
Manchester City 4-2 Crystal Palace: 27 August 2022 (Premier League)
Manchester City made a nightmare start to the reverse fixture last August. They found themselves 2-0 down just 21 minutes into the game, with John Stones inadvertently turning an Eberechi Eze free-kick into his own goal before Joachim Andersen headed in from a corner. It was the earliest City had been two behind at home in the Premier League since December 2010 against Everton (2-0 down after 19 mins).
Bernardo Silva struck just after halftime to pull one back for City, before Erling Haaland exploded into life, bagging a second-half hat-trick to inspire a home comeback. His third strike was particularly impressive, latching onto a through ball from Ilkay Gundogan before holding off his man and finishing superbly.
It was Haaland’s first Premier League hat-trick but he would grab another just four days later against Nottingham Forest. With another one against Manchester United, Haland would become the first Premier League player to score three consecutive hat tricks in home games.
If Haaland were to score three again against Palace, he would become just the second player in history (after Emmanuel Adebayor against Derby County in 2007-08) to score two hat-tricks against an opponent in the same Premier League season.
Although Crystal Palace are sitting in 12th place in the league table, they’ve had an alarming turn of form in 2023. Palace are winless in nine Premier League games (D5 L4), which the longest ongoing run among sides currently in the competition.
No side has fewer Premier League points in 2023 than the Eagles (five, level with Bournemouth), and they’re the only side not to win a game this year. In fact, they are one of just three sides in England (together with Forest Green Rovers and Queens Park Rangers) who’ve yet to win a league game in 2023.
It’s in attack where Viera’s team have really stagnated of late. In 2023, only Newcastle (three) have scored fewer goals than Palace’s four. The Eagles have failed to register a single shot on target in more different Premier League games than any other side this season (four). Worryingly, they’ve not managed one in their last two matches – and mustered just three shots in total against Aston Villa – with no Premier League side on record failing to do so in three consecutive games before (since 2003-04).
No side has won more Premier League points in 2023 than Manchester City who continue to hunt down Arsenal at the top. City have won their last three league games by an aggregate score of 9-1, have kept back-to-back clean sheets, and will be looking to put the pressure back on Arsenal – who play a day later against Fulham – with a win here. They’ve only lost three times in their last 31 away games in the Premier League (W21 D7), so the chances are they’ll do just that.
Crystal Palace: Eberechi Eze
With chances likely at a premium for Crystal Palace, a lot of the attacking burden will sit on the shoulders of Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha, particularly in moments of transition. The former leads Crystal Palace for both non-penalty shots and open-play chances created per 90 minutes this season, and Palace will need to rely on him to fashion opportunities on the counter.
Manchester City: Phil Foden
Foden looks to have discovered his form after a post-World Cup slump. The Englishman opened the scoring against Newcastle United last weekend with a magnificent solo effort and will be looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games, previously doing so in June/July 2020, and September/October this season. He’s scored nine times in the competition so far this term and could reach double figures for the very first time.
Kevin De Bruyne has not been his lively and proactive normal self when on the field, so Foden might need to add drive and direct running in midfield.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Prediction
Given the relative strengths of both teams, it’s not surprising to see the supercomputer predicting Man City come away with the win at full time. In fact, only Liverpool (67.2% away at Bournemouth) have a higher chance of an away win in this matchweek according to the model.
The season-long predictor has the title race at pretty much a 50/50 shot. Arsenal (50.2%) have the smallest of edges right now, but a win here could see City swing into marginal favourites.
The projections expected Palace to finish in roughly 12th spot in the standings come the end of the season, but there’s certainly a chance they could get dragged into a bit of a hairy situation if their run of form doesn’t turn around. Whilst their chances of relegation are currently just 2.4%, that projection will surely rise quickly should they fail to pick up all three points in a game very soon. As things stand, Bournemouth, Southampton and Everton are given the highest chance of going down.