Poor Crystal Palace.
As if it wasn't tough enough facing a deep and talented Manchester City side, they have to face them at the Etihad Stadium, where they have taken all 27 possible points in Premier League play, scored 37 goals and conceded just six.
Contrast that to Crystal Palace on the road, where they've won two and lost seven, scored just five goals and conceded 14. It's starting to become obvious how ugly this could get for Palace, right?
Let's break down what appears to be a very lopsided Premier League matchup.
When: Saturday, December 28 at 10 a.m. ET/3 p.m. GMT
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Watch: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds: Manchester City (74.9 percent), Crystal Palace (8.5 percent) and draw (16.6 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
This is a tough matchup for a Crystal Palace side that have really turned their season around, nabbing 13 points in their last eight matches after earning just three points in their first 10.
A trip to the Etihad Stadium can be quite the momentum killer, though one would imagine Palace will have pretty realistic expectations about their chances in this match.
Meanwhile, City are fresh off of a key 2-1 victory at home over Liverpool, putting them just a point behind Arsenal atop the Premier League table. It was a very important win for the club, as manager Manuel Pellegrini noted (via Sky Sports):
It was very important because Liverpool was the best team in the Premier League on top of the table before the match. So, if they beat us, they are four points on top of our team, so it was very important, especially when we were losing 1-0, to have the personality of the team to go for the game.
I'm very, very happy with the response. It's not easy when you face such a difficult team, especially on the counter attack. When you're losing 1-0, it's very easy to have space for them, but today I think we defended very well.
As Tom Maston of Goal.com notes, it was City's grit and determination that was most impressive in this game, not necessarily their normal display of skill:
Brendan Rodgers' side were by far the most organized outfit to visit the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this season, and with Luis Suarez's ability to unlock a defense at will meaning the attacking threat was constant, the way in which City ground out the result will go some way to further underlining their Premier League credentials.
In a season where the title race is so much closer than any in recent memory, many have pointed to City's attacking play, especially at Eastlands, as the difference between them and the other challengers. But having put in this kind of display and shown that they can add some grit to their obvious glamour, there may well be a few nervous onlookers in Merseyside, London and at the other end of town.
Of course, expect to see that skill on full display against Crystal Palace. Even with red-hot Sergio Aguero sidelined, City can still turn to a slew of dangerous attackers such as Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and David Silva.
Add in Yaya Toure and Fernandinho dominating in the midfield, and Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta solidifying the defense, and it's hard to envision Crystal Palace finding much joy at the Etihad Stadium.
Let's be honest—Crystal Palace don't stand a chance in this game. Though they got themselves out of the relegation zone on Boxing Day with a nice 1-0 win over Aston Villa behind Dwight Gayle's heroics, facing the Citizens is an entirely different type of challenge.
City are unquestionably the best team in the league when they are at home, and that sparkling form will undoubtedly continue unless they completely dismiss Crystal Palace and come out flat. But with the Premier League table so tight this season, every game is vital, a fact that the Citizens won't ignore.
Manchester City roll in this one, 5-0.
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