Manchester City will aim to close the gap to Arsenal at the top when they travel to London to take on a struggling Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace, who face Manchester City next, are yet to win a game in 2023, and the issue has been highlighted more than once in the last few weeks. Patrick Vieira’s men have not tasted victory since their result against Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve, something the manager hopes to change.

They have had decent results in recent weeks, including a draw against Liverpool. But last weekend’s loss to Aston Villa would have made Vieira wonder what he might need to get a positive outcome. Palace are 12th on the table. But only five points separate them from the relegation zone.

A few bad results could drag them into the relegation conversation, something the manager would hope to avoid. Crystal Palace would hope to get ahead of the bottom pack. And if they can stitch together a decent run of results, a top-half finish could come back on their agenda.

Manchester City have plenty of work with their title challenge. It will be a tough week for Pep Guardiola as his team will have a crucial midweek Champions League second leg against RB Leipzig. The Premier League champions currently sit five points behind Arsenal in the title race, as they have the chance to close the gap on Saturday, albeit momentarily.

After two successive draws against Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig, Manchester City found their scoring boots against Bournemouth, Bristol City, and Newcastle United. The victory over the Magpies will have boosted confidence as they will feel optimistic about catching Arsenal.

They now face Crystal Palace, a club that have proved to be a thorn in their ambitions many times in the last few seasons. In the reverse fixture at the Etihad, Manchester City had to come from two goals behind as an Erling Haaland hat-trick came in handy to achieve a win.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira confirmed the absence of Nathan Ferguson and Sam Johnstone while revealing all other players trained during the week. There are also concerns with Will Hughes, and the club might have a late assessment of the midfielder.

Palace will be without key midfielder Cheick Doucoure, who is suspended following the red card against Aston Villa last weekend. Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha is back in action and could start the game by leading the line.

Michael Olise, Jordan Ayew, and Eberechi Eze are all expected to start against Manchester City. Vieira will hope Hughes is ready to start, as he and Albert Sambi Lokonga will marshall the midfield.

The backline may not see changes as Vieira will hope his centre-back pairing of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen does the trick for Crystal Palace. Nathaniel Cliye and Tyrick Mitchell will play full-back roles, with Vicente Guaita between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Guaita; Clyne, Anderseon, Guehi, Mitchell; Hughes, Lokonga; Ayew, Olise, Eze; Zaha

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has a nearly full squad at his disposal, although he will carefully assess the returns of key defenders Aymeric Laporte and John Stones. The duo were on the bench against Newcastle United, but the manager will have to decide whether to use them at the weekend or in the Champions League.

Ideally, they might get a start in midweek, as Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias are likely to keep their places at the back. Guardiola might opt for his hybrid back three with Nathan Ake playing the left-most role in the system, while Bernardo Silva acts like an auxiliary left-back.

Guardiola also confirmed Phil Foden’s availability after the attacker suffered a foot injury against Newcastle United. Whether he risks the England international against Crystal Palace remains to be seen, as the manager might keep him fresh for the midweek clash.

In the attack, Haaland is certain to lead the line for Manchester City and will have Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez on either side. Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan will keep their places in central midfield, while Kevin De Bruyne could only feature among the substitutes.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Walker, Gundogan, Rodri, Silva; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish

Key Stats

  • There have been under 2.5 goals scored in seven of Crystal Palace’s last eight games in the Premier League.
  • Crystal Palace have failed to win their last nine matches in the Premier League.
  • Crystal Palace remain the only team without a win in 2023.
  • Manchester City are the highest-scoring team in the Premier League this season.
  • Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six away matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Embed from Getty Images

The Norwegian continues to find his best form, and his recent revival in goalscoring numbers will prove encouraging for the striker. He already has more goals than any other player in the league and remains the top scorer. But the Crystal Palace clash will provide an extra incentive to be at his best.

Haaland famously scored the hat-trick against Crystal Palace in the reverse fixture that saw Manchester City come from two goals down. The Norwegian has to come to the party and leads Guardiola’s charges with his scoring boots as the team readies itself for a solid title run-in.


Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City

Manchester City come into this clash as overwhelming favourites, considering their recent form and Crystal Palace’s abysmal record in 2023. Pep Guardiola found it difficult to break down this Eagles side at the time. But they may have found the solution in the reverse fixture.

Palace are low on confidence, but the return of Wilfried Zaha may boost their charges a little. For now, Palace may hope for a positive result, but Guardiola’s men remain overwhelming favourites to take all three points here at Selhurst Park. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Manchester City.

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