Crystal Palace and Manchester City will do battle in an all Premier League contest in the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend (3pm Saturday).
Pep Guardiola’s (pictured) side, who thrashed West Ham United 5-0 in the third round of the competition, delivered one of their best performances of the season when they last took to the field, but a failure to take their chances meant Tottenham Hotspur were able to escape from the Etihad Stadium with a 2-2 draw.
While that was a major disappointment for Man City at the time, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss will look back on the positives that can be taken from such a dominant showing, with his side likely to adopt a similar approach at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Given that they are already out of the EFL Cup and the Premier League title race, City may opt to take this tournament more seriously than initially planned in a bid to claim the club’s first piece of silverware since around this time last year, when Manuel Pellegrini’s charges triumphed in the League Cup with victory over Liverpool at Wembley.
Crystal Palace are still seeking their first victory against top-flight opposition since Sam Allardyce replaced Alan Pardew in the dugout around a month ago. The ex-England manager’s only win up to now came against his former employers Bolton Wanderers in a third round replay after the two sides initially drew 0-0 at the Macron Stadium.
The Eagles have not yet experienced the upturn in fortunes that many predicted for them when Allardyce was placed in charge in December, with the team remaining rather suspect defensively and increasingly blunt going forward. The FA Cup is certainly not the priority for a side who lost to Manchester United in last year’s final, but Allardyce will be desperate to avoid a heavy defeat as he seeks to rebuild his players’ confidence and self-belief for the bigger battle to come.
Club captain Vincent Kompany has returned to Manchester City training after a knee injury, but Ilkay Gundogan remains sidelined until later this year. Guardiola named an extremely attacking starting XI in the aforementioned 2-2 draw with Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side but will probably add a little more security to his midfield this time around, although Fernandinho is still serving a ban for violent conduct. Gabriel Jesus, who made his club debut after joining from Brazilian Palmeiras, could be handed his first City start out wide.
Palace will be without Connor Wickham (knee), Pape Souare (leg), Jordon Mutch (knock), Steve Mandanda (knee) and Jonathan Benteke (knee), with Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako also likely to sit this one out after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations just a few days ago. Loic Remy should start as he looks to rebuild his fitness following a spell on the sidelines, while Jeffrey Schlupp could continue at left wing-back after a solid first appearance for Palace in the loss to Everton last time out.
Our Preview’s Crystal Palace v Man City Betting Tips
Despite their struggles at times in the last couple of months, Man City should have too much quality for their struggling opponents when the pair face off at Selhurst Park this weekend. Indeed the best of the bookmakers have them as 1/2 shots to win. Guardiola named a strong side in the last round against West Ham and is likely to do so again here, while Allardyce probably would not mind his team exiting the competition at this stage as a result of Palace’s need to focus on securing top-flight survival. With that in mind, then, it could be worth backing City to come out on top in a game featuring more than 2.5 goals, while Kelechi Iheanacho would be a sensible selection to make the net ripple at any time. So our preview’s suggested betting tips are:
- Manchester City to beat Crystal Palace with over 2.5 goals scored in total at 5/4 with BoyleSports.
- Kelechi Iheanacho to score anytime at 13/10 with Coral.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.