Crystal Palace face Manchester City live on Sky Sports on Saturday hoping for a repeat of their 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium in December.
Since that day, when goals from Jeffrey Schlupp, Andros Townsend and Luka Milivojevic inflicted City’s first home defeat of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, Pep Guardiola’s side have been beaten by four other sides from outside the big six.
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Leicester and Newcastle stunned them with 2-1 home wins last season. In the new campaign, there have been defeats to newly-promoted Norwich, who won 3-2 at Carrow Road last month, and Wolves, who dealt another blow to their title prospects with their 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium before the international break.
Manchester City have hit record-breaking heights in the Premier League under Guardiola, but what do those defeats tell us about their vulnerabilities? And how could Crystal Palace – a side with a penchant for upsetting the odds against the big guns – pull off another shock in Saturday’s late kick-off at Selhurst Park?
Keep the shape and force them wide
City’s technical prowess is such that they are always expected to dominate possession. But – as their defeats to Palace, Leicester, Newcastle, Norwich and Wolves have all shown – converting that dominance into results is not easy if their opponents get their gameplan right without the ball.
C Palace vs Man City
October 19, 2019, 5:00pm
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Nuno Espirito Santo put the Wolves win down to his players “running like crazy”, but there was a lot more to it than that. In fact, Premier League tracking data shows that Wolves covered a relatively modest 107.8km – only their third-highest total in a Premier League game this season and almost 10km fewer than Everton in City’s previous game.
The win owed more to their disciplined and compact defensive shape. Instead of chasing down possession, Wolves sat back, soaked up the pressure and closed off the spaces in a 5-3-2 formation. As City’s frustration grew, their focus dropped, with Wolves eventually punishing them on the break.
Adama Traore took the headlines for his goals, but his performance at right wing-back was also notable for its defensiveness. Like most of his team-mates, the Spaniard spent the majority of the game deep in his own half helping to keep City at bay. It is a reminder that there can be no passengers against such a formidable opponent.