Sunday 31st December. 12PM. BT Sport
New Year’s Eve football sees arguably the best team in Europe right now try to make it half a season’s worth of straight victories as Pep Guardiola’s men head to Selhurst Park. However, Roy Hodgson’s Eagles won’t go down without a fight, and we could be set for an explosive end to the year.
Can the hosts cause an upset or will the league leaders take another step towards the title? Whatever happens, it’s set to be a lunchtime cracker.
Palace Facing An Uphill Battle
After dragging themselves out of the bottom three, Palace will be far more optimistic about their chances of survival than they were two or three months ago. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done if they’re going to reserve their Premier League status, and a shock win over the league leaders would prove to be massive.
Nevertheless, Hodgson’s men will be under no illusions about the size of the task ahead as they try to stop the seemingly unstoppable force. Worryingly, the hosts have leaked 18 goals in just 10 home games. Despite the fact that they are scoring at Selhurst Park in spite their lack of striking options, those defensive issues could be a major problem.
The hosts were unbeaten in six home games prior to Thursday’s loss against Arsenal, a run which included a memorable win over Chelsea. This can give them a glimmer of hope, but the lack of preparation time isn’t ideal ahead of such a tough test.
Palace can look to cause some problems going forward. But if they leave themselves exposed, they will be exposed time and time again.
Guardiola Prepared To Adapt
It might not have been quite as pretty as some of their previous victories, but win number 18 at Newcastle showed that Guardiola’s men are ready to break down defensive minded sides on their travels as well as at the Etihad. Frankly, that should be a cause for concern across the league,starting with Crystal Palace.
Questions have been asked of City’s backline but they boast the most economical defence in the division and seem more than capable of handling any pressure, and even Vincent Kompany’s absence won’t change that. If their defence is strong, their frontline is simple phenomenal.
The quality of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne is frightening while Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane have dominated defences all season. With Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both scoring for fun when selected, it’s difficult to see where the visitors can be stopped. By Palace or indeed any of the other 18 Premier League outfits.
With the title already sewn up, the Citizens are now bidding for records. Equally Bayern’s 19 wins is next on their agenda, and would be a great way to end 2017. It’d take a brave man to bet against them.
Crystal Palace v Manchester City Betting
The record-breaking Citizens are favourites once again at odds of 1/4 with Sun Bets while Crystal Palace have been established as the 11/1 outsiders. Alternatively, the draw can be backed at 11/2.
While Palace have made improvements under Hodgson, the loss against Arsenal shows that they are still some way short of the top sides. With City gunning for glory in what is turning out to be a magical season, the Eagles are likely to come undone once more.
Palace may well score a goal, but the Citizens are more than capable of grabbing three or more goals split over the two halves. With this in mind, the win both halves market looks great value at 13/8, not least when you see ¼ for the 90 minute win.
Even if it isn’t a vintage display by Pep’s men, City will enjoy the possession and waves of attacks. As such, the Palace defenders are likely to come under a lot of pressure throughout the game, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see several of them pick up yellow cards.
At 4/1, we’re backing Jeffrey Schlupp to pick up his fourth of the season against Sterling and co.