Manchester City FC vs Crystal Palace FC
Crystal Palace travel to Manchester City hoping not to become only the second team in Premier League history to lose their opening six games of the league season.
City are at almost full strength, with captain Vincent Kompany nearing full fitness following a calf injury sustained on international duty. Ilkay Gundogan was substituted in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win over West Bromwich Albion, but it is not thought to be serious. The German will however miss the visit of Palace.
The Eagles also have a near full squad to choose from, with defender Pape Souare making his first appearance since breaking his leg in a devastating car crash last September.
Both sides made significant changes for midweek and are expected to largely return to the line-ups from Saturday after encouraging performances.
If Palace fail to claim a point on Saturday, they will join the Portsmouth team of 2009/10 as the only teams in Premier League history to have lost their first six fixtures.
That Pompey team was ravaged by financial trouble and had already been deducted nine points, setting them well on the way to relegation come May 2010. This Palace team is not affected by such conditions and have a £32 million striker in Christian Benteke though they are still to find the net this term.
Despite securing their second cup win of the season over Huddersfield on Tuesday, Roy Hodgson is expected to bring back the experienced heads he rested for Saturday’s match, with Scott Dann, Benteke, Wayne Hennessey and Jason Puncheon set to return to the spine of the team, in an attempt to block out a formidable City attack.
The game will likely come too soon for Pape Souare to start from the off, with only 45 minutes uner his belt since coming back Hodgson would be brave to risk him in what is likely to be a highly intense 90 minutes for the Eagles defenders.
Pep Guardiola will bring back Sergio Aguero after resting him for the win over West Brom. Nicolas Otamendi will also return, and Guardiola must decide whether to revert to a back three or continue with four in defence.
Leroy Sane scored twice in Wednesday’s game and will be hoping to start on Saturday, though he faces a tough task to displace any of the team which demolished Watford last Saturday.
Prediction: Manchester City 3 Crystal Palace 0
Written by Sam Hanys.