Premier League – 2019/2020 > Manchester City-Crystal Palace

Team News

Manchester City

  • Both Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte are nearing a return to full fitness and should be back in action early next month, with the treatment room now vacant.
  • Following the 6-1 annihilation of Aston Villa last weekend Pep Guardiola must be tempted to field both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus from the start once more.
  • However, both Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva will be itching to return, so one or the other will likely lose their place, along with David Silva from the midfield.

Crystal Palace

  • Without as many as nine first team players, Roy Hodgson has been working wonders with this Palace squad and has little choice but to field a very similar lineup to that which earned a point against Arsenal last weekend.
  • Max Meyer was forced off through injury, however, following a poor tackle by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the German is unlikely to recover for the trip to the Etihad.
  • We could see a first start for loan signing Cenk Tosun in turn, with Jordan Ayew forced into a wide role on the right.

Prediction

  • Pep Guardiola is enjoying a decent spell with regards to injuries of late and with both Laporte and Sane soon to return, the Spaniard will be confident of a strong end to the season.
  • By comparison, Palace are down to the bare bones and it will take an almighty effort to earn what would be back-to-back victories at the Etihad.
  • The visitors will defend manfully, that’s for sure, so City won’t have it as easy as last weekend but if they play anywhere near the level they did in the first half at Villa Park the hosts should win comfortably.

Premier League__ Man City click into gear as they chase cup glory

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will not retain their Premier League title barring a spectacular Liverpool implosion, but the form book suggests the Catalan could still end up celebrating a trophy-laden season.

The defending league champions have won nine of their past 10 games in all competitions, their only defeat since early December coming when they were reduced to 10 men and lost 3-2 at Wolves.

The visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday is followed by a trip to face Sheffield United before they take on Fulham at home in the fourth round of the FA Cup and Manchester United in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal.

City hold a 3-1 lead in that tie in a competition in which they have not lost a game since October 2016, an extraordinary run that makes Guardiola’s side overwhelming favourites to win the League Cup for a third consecutive season.

Guardiola, whose side won a domestic treble last season, will be relishing the return of influential centre-half Aymeric Laporte following a knee injury he suffered at the end of August.

The French international’s absence has been a major factor in City’s difficulties this season, although he has been making impressive strides in first-team training.

An original prediction of a February return has been brought forward slightly, with Laporte now tipped to be back before the end of the month, possibly in the League Cup derby meeting with United on 29 January.

The 25-year-old’s return would allow Brazilian Fernandinho to return to his holding midfield role, bolstering City in two areas of the pitch.

Even more good news is on the horizon, with German international winger Leroy Sane making a rapid recovery from a knee ligament injury that has sidelined him since the first week in August.

SANE RETURN?

The 24-year-old is in solo training but is expected to join first-team sessions imminently and a return to competitive action next month is now a realistic target.

“I think he is close,” said Guardiola last week. “I spoke with him two days ago and he said to me he is training alone with the ball, he is doing incredibly well.

“His knee looks really good so I don’t think it is going to take too much time to come back to train with us. I think in the next few weeks he can come back.”

The return of Laporte and Sane could be crucial as City prepare for the return of the Champions League, which they have never won.

City face a two-legged last-16 tie against Real Madrid, with the first leg taking place in Spain on 26 February.

Guardiola, who was twice a European champion while in charge of Barcelona, has constantly tried to downplay the importance of winning the trophy, although the club’s owners have made no secret of their desire to win the continent’s biggest club prize.

With a top-four finish in the Premier League all but guaranteed, Guardiola can afford to rotate his squad in Premier League games and focus on the three cup competitions still within his reach.

Raheem Sterling is one player who has benefited from being left out of the starting line-up, keeping him fresh for more important tests to come.

And, after a slow start to his City career, Joao Cancelo has been trusted in recent weeks to play games in defence, allowing Guardiola to ensure his back line is not weakened by further injury and fatigue.

Premier League__Chelsea youngster James handed five-year deal

Chelsea have handed 20-year-old defender Reece James a long-term contract until 2025, the Premier League club said in a statement on Thursday.

James is one of several young homegrown players to have thrived in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, benefiting from the transfer ban which prevented the club from buying new players in the close season.

He has made 18 appearances since returning from a successful loan spell at Championship side Wigan Athletic, scoring on his debut against Grimsby Town in the League Cup and netting in a 4-4 draw with Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League.

“It has been my dream to be here at Chelsea and play week in week out and to have a contract for another five-and-a-half years is living the dream again,” James told Chelsea’s website.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “The smooth way Reece has fitted into the team so quickly despite missing the start of the season has been clear for everyone to see.

“The fact another exciting young player is part of the future of the club is a result of great work by our Academy, our loans department, our new coaching staff and of course the player himself.”