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The Premier League season is nearing its conclusion as Manchester City look to move a step closer to the title tomorrow.
A victory over Crystal Palace combined with a Manchester United loss against Liverpool would be enough for Pep Guardiola to claim his third league title in the past four seasons as manager of the Sky Blues.
With five games remaining, City are ten points clear of the Reds in the table, and they will know two wins will guarantee another finish at the top of the Premier League mountain.
John Stones won’t be available for the Citizens as he will serve the second game of his three-match ban, which applies only to domestic competitions.
Nathan Ake could start in his place.
Neither Sergio Aguero nor Gabriel Jesus saw the field against PSG in mid-week, so we can expect to see one or both of them on Saturday.
With City playing PSG in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, it won’t be a surprise if Guardiola makes multiple changes.
Roy Hodgson has plenty of injury concerns heading into this fixture.
The list of absentees for the veteran manager includes Mamadou Sakho (thigh), James Tomkins (eye), Nathan Ferguson (thigh), James McArthur (calf), and Connor Wickham (muscle).
Lack of Ammunition
Crystal Palace have had their share of struggles throughout their past few campaigns when facing Manchester City.
The Eagles have lost 13 of their last 17 matches against the Citizens.
They have failed to score on 10 occasions during that run.
City haven’t lost in their last five visits to Selhurst Park since a 2-1 defeat back in April 2015.
Giving it away
Crystal Palace players are getting used to collecting the ball from their net quite often, especially at home.
Roy Hodgson’s side have conceded 25 Premier League goals this season at Selhurst Park.
Only Newcastle (27) and West Brom (33) have given up more at home in 2020-21.
Thriving on the road
Maybe it’s the fact there are empty stadiums, but Man City have shown they are anything but intimidated to play away from the Etihad.
They have won each of their 10 Premier League fixtures by an aggregate score of 26-4.
If they can win this weekend, it would set a new all-time English top-flight record for consecutive away wins.
Chelsea (April- December 2008) and Man City (May- December 2017) hold the current record.
Starting off on the wrong foot
One thing Pep Guardiola would like to see his side improve upon is how they’ve been starting games.
The Citizens have given up the opening goal in each of their last two Premier League encounters.
That’s one more than they conceded in their previous 23 EPL fixtures.
The Crystal Ball
Palace seem to go as far as striker Wilfried Zaha can take them.
The Ivorian striker has 10 goals so far: his joint-best return in a single league campaign in his career.
He is only the second player to reach double figures in goals for the Eagles on two separate occasions, with the other being teammate Luka Milovejevic.
Sterling things up
He hasn’t had the most outstanding campaign so far, but Raheem Sterling seems to bring his A-game when facing Crystal Palace.
The Englishman has been involved in seven goals in his last seven EPL matches versus the Eagles.
This game is by no means a must-win, but when you look at the remaining games for the Citizens, there’s no doubt it’s a huge opportunity to get that much closer to a Premier League crown.
Crystal Palace are currently in 13th place with virtually no chance of qualifying for Europe or being relegated.
They are essentially just playing out the season for pride and nothing more.
The remainder of City’s EPL opponents this season are all teams that could have a lot to play for right until the very end.
Chelsea are in a dogfight to claim a Champions League berth.
Everton aren’t far off a spot in Europe in some form next season.
City’s other two Premier League opponents are Brighton and Newcastle.
The Magpies are nine points clear of relegation, which seems comfortable, but they still need some results to remain in the top flight.
The Seagulls, meanwhile, are seven points clear and will want to put some distance between themselves and Fulham.
All that being said, Saturday’s match is a prime opportunity for Pep Guardiola’s team to rest some key players and still come away with a victory.
City boss Pep Guardiola says an early start time Saturday will not be easy to contend with given the team’s quick turnaround.
“Tomorrow we play at 12.30, so we don’t have extra time to recover from Paris. This is my only concern.
“I am sorry not to answer your questions. But it is Crystal Palace, Roy Hodgson’s team. Every time we faced them, we had a lot of problems to win the game.
“Let me travel to London, wake up good and try to win the game. The rest we cannot control.
“It’s a tough job to do. Always, I don’t remember an easy game against them.”
Saturday’s match from Selhurst Park begins at 12:30 pm. (JSL)