Crystal Palace will pose an attacking threat against a Manchester City side that struggled defensively last weekend.
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Manchester City barely broke sweat in the first two weekends of the 2022/23 Premier League season. A 2-0 victory over West Ham United on matchday one was achieved with a minimum of fuss, as summer signing Erling Haaland notched a brace on his Premier League debut.
City then brushed Bournemouth aside at the Etihad Stadium, running out 4-0 winners against the newly promoted outfit. It left Pep Guardiola’s side in a familiar position: at the top of the table, looking down on the rest of the division.
Last weekend, though, City were made to work. In the opening 15 minutes of their match against Newcastle United, the reigning champions were in cruise control. But the opening goal by Ilkay Gundogan was canceled out by a Miguel Almiron effort shortly before the half-hour mark. Newcastle then took a deserved lead through Callum Wilson in the 39th minute, before Kieran Trippier’s marvelous free-kick doubled their advantage nine minutes after the restart.
City fought back admirably in the last 30 minutes to draw 3-3. They created enough chances to have scored four or five goals at St James’ Park, but that does not change the fact that they were put through their paces for the first time this campaign. That is good news for the rest of the Premier League and all neutral supporters who want to see a title race this season. City, it turns out, are not infallible after all.
This is Crystal Palace’s 10th consecutive campaign in the Premier League and they have never looked more at home in the top flight of the English game. Few teams in the division have undergone as much change in the past year and a half.
Just 15 months ago, Palace were managed by Roy Hodgson – an experienced, pragmatic manager who promoted defense-first soccer. The emphasis was on organization and discipline rather than flair and panache. In fairness to Hodgson, it worked: Palace steered clear of the relegation battle in each of his four seasons at the helm, and the ex-England manager therefore fulfilled his remit.
Things are much different these days, though. Patrick Vieira has made this Palace team one of the most entertaining to watch in the Premier League. Consider their 3-1 victory over Aston Villa last time out. With Ebere Eze and Wilfried Zaha at the forefront, Palace played thrilling, attacking soccer against opponents that have been widely tipped to finish above them this season. They actually fell behind but responded well to that adversity, with Zaha’s brace and a Jean-Philippe Mateta strike earning the south Londoners all three points in front of their raucous fans at Selhurst Park.
It was a well-deserved triumph that moves the Eagles onto four points from a possible nine – a decent return given they have already had to face Arsenal and Liverpool in the opening weeks of the campaign. Avoiding defeat by Manchester City on Saturday would make this a fantastic start to the season for Vieira’s side, all things considered. Perhaps a top-eight finish and Europa Conference League qualification is a realistic aim for Palace this term.
Manchester City do not lose Premier League matches often. They were defeated only three times on their way to the title last season: twice by Tottenham Hotspur, including on the opening weekend of the campaign, and once by Crystal Palace. The Eagles, along with Spurs and Southampton, did not lose to City in either of their meetings in 2021/22. A 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park in the middle of March followed on from an improbable (but deserved) 2-0 victory at the Etihad at the end of October.
Palace won that game through spirited defending and counter-attacking venom. It was a recipe for relative success against Liverpool on matchday two of the current campaign too, as Vieira’s men upset the odds to hold the Reds to a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
The Palace boss (and former Manchester City player) has introduced a possession-based style of play, but he is realistic enough to know that his team will need to mix things up this weekend. Palace will look to soak up pressure before springing forward on the break when the opportunity presents itself.
City will probably come out on top in front of their own fans, but Palace have plenty of attacking quality these days. Zaha in particular is in fine form – only Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have notched more goals in 2022 than the Ivory Coast international – so both teams scores look like the way to go in what could be another entertaining and hard-fought encounter involving the Premier League champions.
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|Teams||Manchester City vs Crystal Palace|
|Location||Eithad Stadium, Manchester, England|
|Time||Saturday, 27 August 2022, 10.00 AM EST|
|How to watch||Peacock Premium|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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