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Match Previews

The Palace Preview: Manchester City

20 December 2018

This Saturday, Crystal Palace head north to Manchester where they will face the current champions of English football and, while the odds may seem stacked strongly against them, the Eagles enjoyed a well-earned draw with Manchester City in the last fixture between the two clubs.

City have had a turbulent time over the course of their history, being founded in 1880 as St Mark's before becoming Manchester City in 1894. Years later, the club enjoyed a remarkable purple patch in the 1960s under the leadership of Joe Mercer and former Palace manager Malcolm Allison. During the time the pair were in charge, the Citizens won the First Division title despite having started the 1967/68 season at 200/1 to win.

More recently, City have won the Premier League three times in their past eight seasons, finishing runners-up twice while winning an FA Cup, three League Cups and two Community Shields. 

And while Palace have struggled of late against such a strong side who have beaten them in 10 of the last 12 meetings, a resolute Eagles team did pull off a 0-0 draw to shock the footballing world back on New Year's Eve 2017. Luka Milivojevic missed a 92nd-minute penalty that day and so the Eagles were unfortunate not to end the year in style with two more surprise points.

Captain Milivojevic went on in the next match to score Palace's winner over Southampton in the 80th minute, his team no doubt boosted by achieving a strong result against such talented opposition just three days before.

Moving forward a year and it is again Milivojevic grabbing the headlines for Palace, and another reason the team will be boosted going into this tough fixture is their pleasing victory over former champions Leicester City last Saturday, won, of course, by the skipper's stunning strike.

Milivojevic's long-range hit secured three points at Selhurst Park for the second game running, the first time all season that the Eagles have won back-to-back home matches. Going forward, then, the question is whether they can carry that form into away matches, though typically the home advantage for Palace arises from their vocal, passionate home support.

And with a sold-out crowd heading to the Etihad Stadium, the Eagles are sure to have their relentless, driven fans carrying them throughout the 90 minutes.

One man no doubt looking to prevent a Palace upset will be Leroy Sane and, while it's hard to pick out a single stand-out talent from the City squad, the German midfielder has been in remarkable form of late, having scored three times and nabbed four assists from just his past five matches. 

It is in defence, though, where the Eagles have been strongest this season, and Palace have kept three clean sheets from their past fives matches including their latest result with Leicester. Strengthened both by the return of James Tomkins and exceptional performance from Man of the Match Martin Kelly, the Palace backline has choices available to them and will be certain to put in a resolute, solid performance on Saturday.

Team News

Return here for full updates both on the Palace and City squad from Hodgson and Pep Guardiola after they deliver their respective pre-match press conferences. The Eagles were without shot-stopper Wayne Hennessey against Leicester and are still monitoring the fitness of forward Connor Wickham, though he is available for selection.

For City, John Stones will be assessed over the week due to a slight knee injury while David Silva remains injured until January. However, Kevin De Bruyne returned to action by playing 15 minutes in the Citizen's win over Everton last Saturday.

Sergio Aguero is likely to be available to play having missed their previous four fixtures. He has been directly involved in five goals in his last fourPremier League games against Palace.

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