Manchester City could be celebrating Premier League title glory by the close of play this weekend, assuming they can get the better of Crystal Palace in Saturday lunchtime’s kickoff.
The hosts will have had five days to recover from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leicester City on Monday night, while Man City overcame Paris Saint-Germain by the same scoreline in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in midweek.
Crystal Palace looked capable of springing a surprise at the home of top-four contenders Leicester last time out, as a 12th-minute Wilfried Zaha goal propelled Roy Hodgson’s men into the ascendancy after a swift counter-attack.
Despite boasting a 1-0 lead as the half-time whistle blew, Palace soon fell victim to two almost identical goals from Timothy Castagne and Kelechi Iheanacho, as both men produced left-footed thunderbolts to complete the Foxes comeback and leave Palace’s top-10 hopes in jeopardy.
Even though the 13th-placed Eagles are not mathematically safe just yet, they are 11 clear of the dropzone with a game in hand on the bottom three, so their Premier League status is all but assured and Hodgson will simply want his players to give a good account of themselves before the season concludes.
However, Palace can boast just one win from their last seven Premier League matches, and having faced Everton, Chelsea and Leicester in recent weeks, the fixtures do not get any easier after Man City pay a visit, as Arsenal and Liverpool lie in wait in the final two weekends of the campaign.
While the Eagles have managed to keep three clean sheets in their last four home matches, only West Bromwich Albion (33) and Newcastle United (27) have conceded more goals on familiar territory than Palace (25) this season, so City can certainly aspire to replicate Liverpool’s seven-goal showing as they attempt to prise the title off the Reds.
In what was truly a game of two halves at the Parc des Princes, Mauricio Pochettino was the one sitting more comfortably in the dugout as his PSG side dazzled and delighted in the opening exchanges, and the French side took a deserved lead through Marquinhos’s header.
However, Pep Guardiola ultimately had the last laugh as his Man City team came out all guns blazing in the second half, with Kevin De Bruyne’s fortuitous effort and Riyad Mahrez’s sublime free kick – which somehow founds its way through the PSG wall – giving City a 2-1 advantage at half time in the semi-final.
The Citizens must temporarily forget about their continental endeavours, though, as they could wrap up the Premier League title should they win at Palace and Manchester United lose to Liverpool – results which would open up an unassailable 13-point lead at the top with four games remaining.
Despite two home slip-ups to Man United and Leeds United, City’s dominance on the road is showing no signs of letting up, as Guardiola’s men have won their last 10 Premier League away matches, and another victory on their travels here would see them equal the English top-flight record of 11 consecutive away wins.
Guardiola’s side cruised to a 4-0 success over Palace when the sides met at the Etihad in January, and they have strung together a five-game unbeaten run at Selhurst Park since losing 2-1 in the 2014-15 campaign.
Crystal Palace Premier League form:
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):