Crystal Palace-Manchester City Preview
Manchester City are aiming to continue a fine run of form Saturday when the Citizens attempt to extend their Premier League unbeaten streak to five matches against a tricky Crystal Palace side at the Etihad Stadium.
Man City (12-4-5) come into the clash in third place in the table with a chance to go level on points at the top with Arsenal and surprise package Leicester City depending on how the weekend's results play out.
Despite their lofty spot in the table, City fans are perhaps a bit disappointed following a scoreless draw with Everton at home on Wednesday. That came on the heels of a 2-1 loss to the Toffees at Goodison Park last week in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals.
The clubs traded chances and City dominated with second half, but Everton and United States national team goalkeeper Tim Howard was on top form, twice denying City striker Sergio Aguero and thwarting Raheem Sterling's effort with his foot before booting away Kevin de Bruyne's low cross as City applied more pressure.
City appealed for a late penalty when Sterling went down under a challenge from Everton defender John Stones, but referee Roger East did not give one, a decision City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes was incorrect.
"Everyone in the stadium could see it, it was so near the referee and so clear," Pellegrini declared. "Both Raheem's legs were taken by Stones but if he doesn't whistle we can't say anything."
Perhaps a meeting with the Eagles will put City's title train back on track as the club have won six of their last seven league meetings with Palace, with a 2-1 Eagles' home win in April 2015 the exception.
The Eagles (9-4-8) are hoping to a avoid a third straight defeat in Premier League play following Tuesday's 1-0 defeat against last-place Aston Villa. Keeper Wayne Hennessey gifted the Villans the victory when he fumbled defender Joleon Lescott's shot over the line in the 58th minute.
"It's difficult to give my thoughts really," reflected manager Alan Pardew. "The lack of offensive power going forward is becoming a problem. It really was a disjointed offensive display. We have to acknowledge that our quality, our game plan didn't come to light in the first half and it didn't come to light in the second half, so we've got some work to do."
It was the fourth straight league match without a goal for Palace, who have gone scoreless for 362 minutes since Chung-Young Lee netted the winner in the 88th minute of their 2-1 victory at Stoke City on Dec. 19.
"It was a frustrating result and we weren't expecting it. We started pretty fast but then they settled into it really well and the crowd got right behind them," said Palace defender Martin Kelly. "For their players to hear that probably gave them a big lift and caught us off guard. But there's always lessons to be learned when you've lost, and we've just got to put that behind us and look forward to the next few games which are equally important."
The Eagles will need muster some much-needed offense at the Etihad – a place where they have never won a league match – if they want to get a result.
The south London club has lost three times and drawn twice in five visits to the blue half of Manchester. They have only scored two goals in those five trips – one in 1994 and one in 2005. Palace have also lost each of their last three visits to the Etihad by a combined 7-1 scoreline
City claimed a 1-0 win over Palace in September with Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench to score the 90th-minute winner.