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33 min: Palace have been seriously under the cosh, so they do well to finally bust upfield, Zaha buying a cheap free kick from Dias, then from the resulting set piece winning a corner down the left. Nothing comes from the set piece, but all of this allows Palace to slow things down a little. They were threatening to fall apart back there.
31 min: Milivojevic completes a bad minute by raking his studs down Rodri and picking up a booking. The resulting free kick is swung in from the right and nearly finds Rodri at the far stick. His header is blocked by Guaita.
30 min: Milivojevic miscontrols 25 yards from his own goal and suddenly Haaland is tearing into the Palace box. Haaland fires a low, hard cross into the mixer from the left. There’s some pinball. The ball breaks back to Haaland, who tries again. This one – more of a shot, perhaps – is sliced wide right.
28 min: … so having said that, City carve Palace open down the left, Grealish slipping Ake into space on the wing. Ake crosses low. Haaland leans back and lifts a shot over from eight yards. That really should have been the opener, and the pained look on Haaland’s face suggests he knows it.
27 min: City are enjoying the lion’s share of possession, but they haven’t put Guaita to work that often. Palace will be pleased enough with the way this is going.
25 min: Akanji crosses from the right. Haaland is denied a header by Andersen. Then Silva delivers from the left. Haaland prepares to nut home again, only for Schlupp to step in front of him and eyebrow away from danger. That’s great defending to deny the City striker.
23 min: Foden plays another loose pass in the centre circle, and for a second it looks as though Palace will break quickly again. Zaha and Lokonga combine down the left but an attempt to thread a pass upfield to Olise is blocked by the alert Akanji, who has done Foden a big favour there.
21 min: Silva takes a quick throw in from the right. Rodri catches Palace napping and connects with it, bursting down the channel and into the box. But he takes a heavy touch and it’s a goal kick. Better control and he would have been free in the area with a chance to leather home from ten yards.
19 min: Rodri steams down the middle before laying off to Haaland on his right. Haaland attempts a low diagonal shot towards the bottom left, but it’s blocked the second it leaves his boot.
18 min: A free kick for Palace just inside the City half. Olise wedges it down the right flank, in the hope of releasing Guehi into the box. But the ball skids off the greasy turf and out for a goal kick.
16 min: Foden ships possession in the centre circle and allows Olise to tear off with the ball. He tries to hack his opponent down but misses. Olise continues towards the City box, then lays off to Zaha on his left. Zaha takes a shot from a tight angle but slams it straight at Akanji.
15 min: Gundogan dribbles down the inside-right channel only to be nudged from behind by Ayew. It would have been a soft free kick, but you’ve certainly seen them given. Not this time, though. Gundogan is incensed.
13 min: Haaland attempts to spin Andersen just outside the Palace box. Legs tangle and he falls over, claiming for a free kick. A penalty perhaps? But the referee rules in favour of Palace. That’s one of those decisions that could have gone either way. The referee taking the path of least resistance.
11 min: Some real estate for Haaland to hare into down the right. Palace are collectively on the back foot, but Haaland’s low cross flies to nobody in particular and the hosts can clear their lines.
9 min: Foden benefits from a fortunate ricochet off Mitchell down the right. He lays off to Silva, who crosses towards Haaland on the penalty spot. Andersen does well to win the header with Haaland winding his neck back.
7 min: That fast start by both sides (but especially City) has got both sets of fans going. A great atmosphere at Selhurst, as there almost always is.
5 min: An odd one as the ball’s wedged down the inside-right for Zaha to chase. Dias loses the flight of the pass, and as he spins just outside the box, the ball slaps his arm very obviously. But the referee waves on, a supposed advantage. Palace would surely have preferred the free kick, on the edge of the box just to the right of the D. But they don’t get one.
4 min: Grealish dribbles infield from the left at high speed. He runs into a pocket of space just to the left of the D, only to drag his shot wide left. He should be hitting the target at the very least; when he was pulling the trigger, it looked like a goal was on the cards. A fast start by City, this!
3 min: The corner leads to some bagatelle in the box. Then Rodri pearls a shot through the crowded area towards the top left. Guaita parries brilliantly. Dias has another go, but his effort hits Guehi and Palace eventually clear. Just.
2 min: Some early pressure from City. Grealish probes down the left. Foden tears infield from the right. Grealish tries again down the left, then Ake is sent into space on the overlap. He wins the first corner of the evening after 90 seconds, and Palace haven’t touched the ball yet.
Manchester City get the ball rolling. It is pelting down in south London.
The teams are out! Palace in their red and blue, City in third-choice highlighter-pen yellow. A quick blast of Glad All Over and it begins.
Pep has his say. “At the end of the season, everyone is going to play the same games … we cannot control anything else … this is an important one, but the next one will be too … Palace are a physical team with a lot of quality up front … they are well organised and composed … they are always tough … Selhurst Park is a special place to come and tonight will be no exception.”
Patrick Vieira speaks to Sky. “We are really close to it … we should concentrate on the performance … if we play well, we have a better chance of winning a football game … we will have opportunities … we will have to defend well of course … we will have to be disciplined, tight between the lines, and aggressive … we need to go forward with desire and intensity … the attitude will be right today … our team are always up for it.”
A couple of the earlier results didn’t go Palace’s way. The Eagles sit in 12th right now, but they’re only six points from the bottom, and are very much in an almighty relegation stramash involving the bottom eight sides. There were big wins for Everton and Bournemouth against Brentford and Liverpool respectively, while Leeds salvaged a point against Brighton. Nottingham Forest and Leicester both lost, however, against Spurs and Chelsea respectively, passing up the opportunity to leapfrog Palace in the table. Palace should remain in 12th tonight unless City dish out one of their semi-regular hidings.
Crystal Palace make two changes to their starting XI following the 1-0 loss at Aston Villa last weekend. Luka Milivojevic and Jeffrey Schlupp replace Eberechi Eze, who drops to the bench, and the suspended Cheick Doucoure, who was sent off at Villa Park last week.
Manchester City also make two changes to the XI who started their last league match, the 2-0 win over Newcastle United at the Etihad. John Stones and Bernardo Silva replace Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker, who drop to the bench.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Guehi, Andersen, Mitchell, Lokonga, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Ayew, Zaha, Olise.
Subs: Whitworth, Ward, Tomkins, Richards, Riedewald, Ahamada, Eze, Edouard, Mateta.
Manchester City: Ederson, Stones, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Gundogan, Foden, Grealish, Haaland.
Subs: Ortega Moreno, Walker, Phillips, Laporte, De Bruyne, Alvarez, Mahrez, Palmer, Lewis.
With Arsenal playing at Fulham tomorrow afternoon, here’s an opportunity for Manchester City to close the gap at the top to a couple of points, and apply a little bit of scoreboard pressure to the leaders. Recent form suggests Pep Guardiola’s team will get the job done tonight: City might not be at their relentless best this season, but they’ve still won eight of their last 11 matches in all competitions, while Palace have failed to win any of their last nine in the Premier League, the longest barren streak in the division.
But football can be weird, and Palace will gain strength from their recent record against City. The Eagles have been a constant thorn in City’s side, taking four points from them last season, drawing 0-0 here at Selhurst, winning 2-0 at the Etihad. And while City won 4-2 at the Etihad earlier this season, they had to do so from two goals down, Erling Haaland coming to the rescue with one of those hat-tricks of his. So you can be sure that Pep and his men won’t be taking anything for granted this evening. Kick off is at 5.30pm. It, unlike Final Score, is on. Solidarity.
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