Pep and his players return to the Etihad this weekend where they will face Crystal Palace.
After racking up 17 goals in those 4 matches across three competitions in 11 days, City will look to build on the momentum against Palace and keep their excellent start to the season on track. Palace on the other hand perhaps may be looking forward to this trip with less anticipation having shipped 5 goals without reply on their last visit to the Etihad in May and suffered defeat at the hands of their opponents in each of the last 6 fixtures against Manchester City. In those previous meetings City have notched up 20 goals and conceded only twice and to make matters worse for the visitors shipped 14 of those goals at the Etihad. Not an enviable record for the away side.
The Eagles may have a new manager in England`s ex-coach Roy Hodgson but they arrive with an unwanted record around their collective necks. Their loss at Selhurst Park to Southampton last weekend was their fifth successive defeat in the league and not only has it left them rooted to the bottom of the league but it also means they are goalless after 450 minutes played – a new Premier League record, surpassing Newcastle United in 2005/06. Far more significantly perhaps, no other team of the 2,464 others since 1888 have ever started a top-flight season with no goals and no points after five games. They managed a win in the League Cup on Tuesday though so may feel a bit brighter for that.
City will be looking to carry on in the league where they left off at Watford last Saturday where they were outstanding. Last time out in this home fixture against Palace the Blues were ahead after only 2 minutes courtesy of a David Silva goal. The same again would do nicely as I have little doubt that Roy Hodgson would consider escaping from this game with a point to be progress and as such I am expecting his men to sit deep and try, frustrate City`s through passing and look for a counter attack or set piece to threaten Ederson`s goal.
This may be a tall order. It has been noticeable that the passes by City`s midfielders ‘punched` through the defensive lines have caused more problems this season than they did in 2016/17. I strongly suspect that the marauding presence of City`s new full/wing backs Mendy and Walker may have something to do with this. Blessed not only with lightning fast pace they also stretch the pitch, pinning their direct opponents back and causing the whole of the opposing midfield to open just that fraction larger creating the space to be exploited by the pinpoint accuracy of De Bruyne, Fernandinho or Silva. Aguero and Jesus have made the most of this outstanding accuracy – they have made the runs, they have been found by their team mates and have gotten their rewards.
Sergio Aguero will come into this match on the cusp of becoming Manchester City`s highest goal scorer in the history of the club having made 259 appearances for the club, and scoring 175 goals in all competitions??.
Times have changed both in terms of playing surfaces, player fitness, the frequency of games?..?I could go on but in the end it it doesn`t really matter. What history will record is that Sergio requires two more goals to equal the record set by Eric Brook, a record which has stood for 78 years.
Eric played for Manchester City for 11 seasons between 1928-1939 scoring 177 goals in 494 appearances. He was part of the great City side of the 1930s playing in both FA Cup Finals and ever present in the side during the Championship winning season of 1936/37. He made 18 international appearances but was forced to retire in 1940 at the age of 32 having suffered a fractured skull in a car crash. He passed away aged 57 years at home in Wythenshawe in 1965.
He remains a City legend and would, I am sure, be very happy to see his mantle of the club`s record goalscorer be taken over by a player of the consummate skill and talent of Sergio Aguero.
This is the time for Pep and his players to start showing their true potential, time to put the hammer down and be ruthless
Come on City!!!
*Stats courtesy of Transfermarkt.com
Ruben Loftus-Cheek. On loan from Chelsea, Loftus Cheek has racked up some impressive stats including a pass completion rate of over 84%. A dynamic midfielder he will be looking to shine and force his way back into contention for a place in the Chelsea squad.
Referee – Neil Swarbrick
Assistants – Scott Ledger; Andy Garratt
Fourth Official – Tony Harrington
Stats** comparison (Premier League) :-
Goals per game – 3
Avg Possesion – 64.3%
Pass Accuracy – 88.2%
Shots per game – 18.6
Discipline – 9Y, 2R
Goals per game – 0.2
Avg Possesion – 49.8%
Pass Accuracy – 76.6%
Shots per game – 14.2
Discipline – 14Y, 0R
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored.com
City may actually have a full squad to select from. I know. I can’t quite believe it either.
Palace will be without Conor Wickham who is sidelined with an ACL knee injury but could welcome back U*d reject Zaha. Souare should be fit.
Potential starting XI, subs & formation
Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D
Sterling, G Jesus, Aguero
Bravo, Mangala, Danilo, Gundogan, Silva B, Sané, Diaz
Manchester City v Crystal Palace – Match Preview