Can Crystal Palace Stop The Man City Juggernaut? Two Experts Debate

First v second.
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First v second.

Having disposed of the current Premier League champions with brio, élan, bravery and even a little panache at Stamford Bridge, Palace face the champions-elect at Selhurst this weekend.

What? I hear you cry, we are only four matches into the season, you cannot possibly be saying it is all over as far as the title race is concerned. Well, most pundits and observers have decided it is time to get out the light blue and white ribbons, affix them to the Barclays Premier League trophy and focus on who will be making up the other Champions League spots.

Man City have indeed been in imperious form over these initial matches, scoring at will and not even conceding a solitary goal; if you add in his two England matches, Hart has kept six consecutive clean sheets, (that Head and Shoulders is working a treat).

Add in the fact that they ended last season with six victories on the spin they have now set a club record with their winning streak of ten and are eyeing Arsenal’s fourteen straight victories in 2002 which is the Premier League record.

To find out more about this seemingly irresistible force I asked the brilliant writer and City fan, Ste Tudor, aka The Daisy Cutter, to give us his subjective assessment:

Something strange happened about a third of the way through Manchester City’s trip to Goodison on August 23. Even to a pre-season pessimist such as I am it became undeniably clear that the Blues hadn’t simply started off the campaign strongly.

There was substantially more to it. As a unit and to a man the side that performed so frustratingly glitchy throughout 2014/15 suddenly looked transformed and – dare I say it – unstoppable. Here was Everton – typically our playground bullies who regarded us as blazer w***ers – on an up-curve themselves yet looking noticeably second-best and subdued right across the park.

It was men against boys and the men were wearing blazers. We have won there before – we beat them two years ago to essentially secure the title for goodness sake - but I have honestly never before seen the like.

So far we have been extremely strong, hungry, and utterly dominant in four fixtures that has tested us in various ways. The opening day unknown, title contenders at home, in-yer-face bogey side away, and inevitable relegation strugglers packing ten men behind the ball: all have been dealt with efficiently and imperiously.

How? Well sometimes it comes down to simple formulas. In Kompany, Yaya, Silva and Aguero we have four of the best players in the Premier League and all have brought their a-game back from their summer hols. But there is more to it than that of course. Sagna and Kolorov – two players who deservedly received flak last term – have been amazing and reborn, the latter additionally bodyguarding Sterling as he settles in.

Fernandinho has been nothing short of sensational, while Navas has worked like Speedy Gonzalez after taking a sip of Paula Radcliffe’s energy drink. To that end don’t be surprised if Kevin De Bruyne starts on the bench this Saturday. Seriously, Navas has been that instrumental.

So the international break then has come at a rather bad time despite our decent record after such games last year. We had momentum from the off. Can we pick up where we left off?

Palace were value for money for their win at Selhurst Park last season. Even taking into account your brilliant start yourself you’ll have to up the stakes even further to beat us again. City are revitalised and it’s about frickin’ time.

So some might suggest that Palace are on a hiding to nothing and if City click, there is very little that we can do to upset the juggernaut. But this team has made a handy habit of cocking a snook at the ‘big boys’ and lest we forget one of their last defeats came at Selhurst in April.

This is, after all, a meeting of the top two and the positive attitude that the players adopted against an admittedly fallible Chelsea, should be carried forward into this match. The self-belief surging through the ranks will be tested and hopefully City’s net may, at last, be breached.

Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular feature contributor for The Guardian and Sabotage Times. He also contributes to a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines, including Five Year Plan and HLTCO.

His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Play-Offs is out now and available viawww.ockleybooks.co.uk.

Talking Balls, his sports quotes book, was launched this week.

Follow him on twitter @rcfoster.

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