Manchester City will look to keep the pressure on at the top of the Premier League table when they welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The visiting Eagles squad may be struggling for form over the past couple of weeks, but history suggests nothing is certain when these two teams clash in the Premier League, as highlighted on several occasions by Pep Guardiola during his pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, victory for Pep Guardiola’s men would see Manchester City move up to second in the English top-flight table before all of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Aston Villa play throughout Sunday.
The home team are coming off the back of a thrilling win away to Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League, where youngsters Oscar Bobb and Micah Hamilton joined Kalvin Phillips in scoring their first goals for the club.
Crystal Palace however are winless in five games, a record not much worse than Manchester City’s own recent league struggles, though the Blues look to have put that run to an end with victory at Luton Town last weekend.
Speaking during Friday’s pre-match press conference at the City Football Academy, Pep Guardiola stressed that it was unlikely – though not impossible – that Erling Haaland would be ready for this match.
Should the Norwegian miss out, the door could be opened for a midfielder to start and as such allow Julian Alvarez to be pushed upfield, while no further updates were offered on Jeremy Doku or Kevin De Bruyne.
Ahead of matchday and kick-off at the home of last season’s historic Treble winners, here is how we believe Pep Guardiola will line-up his side against Roy Hodgson’s squad!
While Stefan Ortega Moreno came into the side for the midweek Champions League clash against Crvena zvezda, it looks like Ederson is ready to return from illness against Crystal Palace, with the Brazilian generally enjoying a fine season so far.
Frequent captain Kyle Walker was another of the many stars rested in midweek, and he will surely return to the defensive line to be joined by Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji in the centre of defence.
As much as we would like to see John Stones start this one, it feels unlikely that he would do so just days after playing almost a full match, and with the FIFA Club World Cup campaign in Saudi Arabia coming almost immediately after.
For now, it looks like Josko Gvardiol will continue to get the nod over Nathan Aké in the left-back role, despite largely faultless performances from the Dutchman when called upon by his manager this season.
Rodri appears to be almost a necessity for Manchester City to win a Premier League game at the moment, while we wouldn’t be surprised to see a good recent showing from Matheus Nunes earn him a start alongside Bernardo Silva in the more advanced roles.
Phil Foden seems to be another must-start player this season, and Jack Grealish deserves a look in with two goals in his last two Premier League games. We imagine should Jeremy Doku be deemed ready to be involved against Crystal Palace, it will only be off the bench.
The big question is whether we think Erling Haaland will start or not.
Unless Pep Guardiola is playing mind games during his pre-match press conference, it seems far more likely that Julian Alvarez will be leading the line, with Erling Haaland saved for Manchester City’s first ever Club World Cup charge next week.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Gvardiol; Rodri, Nunes, Bernardo; Foden, Alvarez, Grealish.
Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Lewis, Stones, Ake, Gomez, Phillips, Kovacic, Doku, Bobb.
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