Manchester City once again found a way to drop points in a Premier League match they dominated, as they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Crystal Palace opted to go five-at-the-back and would compact the middle of the pitch with their midfielders to stifle any form of creativity. At times, it looked like a baffling strategy, but the result was a total smash and grab.
The draw highlighted the Blues’ inability to hold onto a lead and continue to concede late goals, a trend for a side who have struggled for consistently throughout November and December. The three-time defending Premier League champions now sit three points behind first placed Liverpool, who play Manchester United on Sunday evening.
Manchester City had a few chances to take the lead in the opening minutes, but some excellent goalkeeping from Dean Henderson and some fortunate deflections kept the game scoreless. The blues were finally able to break the deadlock in the 24th minute through Jack Grealish’s composed finish. The goal was setup from a lovely pass by Phil Foden.
There were a few times to double the lead in the first half but Josko Gvardiol and Foden were unable to convert their chances. Crystal Palace could not build any semblance of an attack in the first half, and their only chance came in the 42nd minute when Ederson mistimed a chance to sweep out an attack and tackled a Crystal Palace player on the edge of box. The Brazilian was given a yellow card for his mistake, and Michael Olise wasn’t unable to keep his free kick down and it went over the bar.
The first half concluded one of the best 45 minute stretches of the season for the Blues, who had total control of the match and stifled any chances the South London club of growing into the match.
Manchester City started the second half exactly where they left off. The blues took control right from the start, and thought they had doubled their lead in the 52nd when Julian Alvarez’s free kick found the back of the net. However, Rodri was in an offside position and interfered with the goalkeeper’s line of sight.
In the following attack Manchester City were able to grab their second. Jack Grealish drove towards the Crystal Palace defenders and quickly found Phil Foden on the edge of the box, who dinked a pass in behind the defensive line into the path of Rico Lewis who drilled home his first Premier League goal.
Seemingly from nowhere Crystal Palace were able to cut the deficit in half in the 75th minute, after a ball over the top allowed Jeffrey Schlupp the opportunity to cross it into Jean-Philippe Mateta’s path for a tap in.
Just as it was looking as the match was set to end, Phil Foden attempted to clear the ball to kill the game and didn’t notice Mateta closing in, striking the Palace striker and leading to a penalty for the visitors in the 94th minute. Michael Olise converted the penalty and drew the game to 2-2.
Here is how we assessed the performances of the Manchester City players from yet another disappointing afternoon in the Premier League!
Ederson – 6
Wasn’t asked to do almost anything in the first half, however he did make a mess of the challenge late in the opening half and nearly awarded Crystal Palace a perfect opportunity to equalise.
Kyle Walker – 6
Kyle Walker’s performance and his managers instructions have been a cause for concern amongst many Manchester City fans, but today was one of the better performances from the former Spurs’ full-back. He wasn’t asked to play wide right and was deployed in a more inverted role without too much responsibility.
Ruben Dias – 7
Perfect confidence boost performance. Dias has been a little shaky at times this season, especially without the partnership of Rodri and Stones, but he was excellent and composed tonight.
Nathan Ake – 7
Stereotypical Ake performance: calm and collected on the ball and error free football. Continues to be an excellent player despite limited game time.
Josko Gvardiol – 6.5
Comfortably one of the better performances of the season for the new signing. Wasn’t overzealous in his challenges, created a few chances and won the ball back multiple times in the press.
Rico Lewis – 7.5
The right back seems to now just be a full time central midfielder and is better for it. Consistently makes the right decisions, and was finally able to convert a chance to score his first goal.
Rodri – 8
Typical great performance from Rodri. Rarely lose possession, pinged passes all over the pitch and almost had a goal from a late run into the box.
Phil Foden – 7.5
Couldn’t do much due to Palace’s compacted structure, but even in his brief moments Foden was excellent. Assisted the first, and created the chance that led to the second. But he lost possession in the following moments that eventually led to the penalty he was responsible for.
Bernardo Silva – 7.5
Bernardo was been excellent during his return to the right wing. His composure on the ball has bright a sense of control back to a Manchester City’s game, and his curling efforts on goal are sure to start going in.
Julian Alvarez – 6.5
Not a great performance from the Argentine, but not all of it was his fault. His goal was rightfully, but frustratingly called offsides, and with Palace consistently dropping so many players deep he was unable to find any space to work with.
Jack Grealish – 7.5
Another great Grealish performance and a third goal in his last three Premier League matches. With Doku out due to fitness issues Grealish has continued to stake his claim at the left wing spot.
John Stones – No time to mark
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