Manchester City will be looking to make it six wins on the bounce as they welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City have been in excellent form of late, closing the gap on table-toppers Chelsea to just three points and qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League thanks to an impressive win over Roma.
Even the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero hasn’t slowed City’s momentum, but Pellegrini is concerned he has even more injury concerns to contend with as the Premier League heads into its typically packed festive period.
With four games coming up in under two weeks, City are without Aguero and Edin Dzeko up top, and are also likely to be missing Stefan Jovetic for the first two of those matches. The highly rated but hugely inexperienced Jose Angel Pozo is likely to lead the line, with the lack of attacking options forcing Pellegrini to pack the midfield with the club’s host of talented creative players.
It’s not just in attack where injury problems are causing a headache for City. Centre-back Matija Nastasic may be available to make his return against Palace after an extended spell on the sidelines with a thigh injury, but stalwart Vincent Kompany is out until the start of January – meaning that the so-far haphazard Eliaquim Mangala is going to be needed to adapt to Premier League pace as quickly as possible.
“We have a lot of trust in Mangala,” Pellegrini said. “That’s why we bought him. Maybe he has made some mistakes in the Premier League and maybe he has delayed a bit to be settled here. But we continue to trust in him because I am sure he is a very good player, he is a very young player and he will be a very important centre-back for our team.”
Saturday’s visitors Crystal Palace have struggled in recent weeks, failing to pick up a win in any of their last four Premier League games. However, Palace have only conceded three goals in those matches and have picked up three points courtesy three draws, meaning there is plenty of room for optimism for Neil Warnock – despite the high-standard of this weekend’s opposition.
“We’re worrying more about ourselves than them,” Warnock said. “We have to be on the top of our game to get anything out of it. We’ve been working hard on that this week.
“City are so bright with their movement, off the ball as well as on it. We have to hope they have one or two players below par, and we’ve also got to take chances when they come – that’s the key to winning games. In every game we’ve had good chances to score goals and we haven’t taken them. If you get one or two against City, you have to take them.”
Palace have doubts over the fitness of striker Marouane Chamakh, while Wilfried Zaha will face a late fitness test.
Man City won both games against Palace last season, but only managed a 1-0 win at the Etihad despite managing 75 percent of possession and outshooting their visitors 23-9.
The Eagles have lost five straight games against City and have failed to score in the last three meetings.
Source: ScoreMobile FC