Man City v Crystal Palace: Hosts likely winners but Eagles are no easy prey
Crystal Palace stunned Manchester City at the Etihad last season. Dave Tindall looks at whether the Eagles can repeat the feat on Saturday...
Man City v Crystal Palace Saturday, 15:00
City starting to purr again
There have been too many entries in the 'Loss' column for City this season and five Premier League defeats - including two at home - have left them a massive 14 points behind Liverpool having also played a game more.
City famously lost this fixture last season and yet they could absorb such a defeat, just. They won their other 18 home games, racked up 98 points and edged out Liverpool by the minimum of margins after winning their last 14 top-flight matches.
Optimists in the City camp will have worked out that they can get to 95 points this time and, although that could still leave them some way short, there are definitely signs that Pep Guardiola's men are starting to purr again.
They've won nine of their last 10 matches in all competitions, scoring three or more goals in seven of them, and in their last two outings they've cruised to a 3-1 League Cup first-leg win at Old Trafford and romped to a 6-1 victory at Aston Villa.
After a rare midweek off, City will be raring to go again as they look to keep up their recent momentum.
And with Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane nearing a return, this could still turn into another trophy-laden season.
Palace have more than just memories on their side
Crystal Palace fans won't forget last season's trip north to the Etihad.
Not only did they pull off one of the shocks of the campaign, they also witnessed the goal of the season thanks to Andros Townsend's thunderbolt volley that put them 2-1 up.
Of course, a single flash of Townsend's boot wasn't the whole story. To get the win, they also had to score twice more and those goals came via Jeffrey Schlupp and a Luka Milivojevic penalty in the second half.
Palace's previous two visits to City had ended in 5-0 defeats so Roy Hodgson had certainly taken plenty on board.
As he said later: "You don't produce that sort of performance by waving a magic wand or having a five-minute team talk, there's a lot of work that goes into that structure and we were excellent."
That said, Palace scored with their only three shots on target.
They're also giving Hodgson reason to smile this season. Palace sit ninth - above Arsenal and Everton - and have lost just one of their last nine Premier League games.
Huge odds for another shock but handicaps look best
The market simply can't see a repeat of last season and Man City are just 1.12 to get three points.
Crystal Palace are a massive 32.00 to get the win which is almost ridiculous given they won last time while the draw is also severely inflated at 12.50.
While tempted to throw a few quid at Palace, the drip-down effect of such prices is that the visitors get plenty of leeway on the handicaps.
Hodgson will surely employ spoiling tactics again and I simply can't ignore the fact that Crystal Palace (+3) is still an odds-against price at 2.06.
Of course, City are capable of crushing sides by big margins but as long as Palace don't lose by three or more goals, we win.
City have won by three or more just twice in their last eight games and one of those was at home to Port Vale in the FA Cup so the numbers are on our side.
Quite simply, the odds looks disrespectful to a Palace side that has conceded fewer away goals (14) than City themselves.
BTTS makes plenty of appeal
It's common knowledge that Crystal Palace don't bang in the goals but Hodgson must be a fan of Geoff Boycott perhaps because they do have a habit of getting them in singles (editor: one for the kids there).
Palace have scored exactly one goal in four of their last six Premier League games and also managed a brace in another of those.
Go back further and they've netted in eight of their last 10 top-flight matches.
Let's not forget that City still have regular lapses in defence and since beating Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park in October, they've kept just three clean sheets.
To put that into a betting context, BTTS has landed in 18 of City's last 21 games in all competitions.
It's 2.38 for 'Yes' on Saturday and punters have got to be thinking yes please.
Mahrez and Zaha worth a look
After his hat-trick at Aston Villa, Sergio Aguero is just 1.46 to net again while Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling are both odds-on.
It may take something individual to break down the Palace defence so Riyad Mahrez is certainly an option at 2.28. However, do note that six of his nine goals this season have come on the road.
Wilfried Zaha has three in his last 10 and will surely see this an opportunity to display his talents and catch the eye of potential suitors.
He's 5.60 to find the net.
That could be worth a look although perhaps just as likely is one of Palace's defenders nodding one in from a set-piece.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola has never lost consecutive home league games against an opponent before - indeed, the Spaniard has lost just 13 of his 195 home top-flight games as a manager, losing more than once against only one opponent in that time (Man Utd, twice).