How quickly things can change. Going into this weekend almost everybody expected City to be, at the very least, two points ahead of the drop zone given the nature of last week’s fixtures. As it is, we find ourselves in 18th place, contemplating what the Championship holds for us next season.
Pundits have talked of ‘must win’ games for City in recent weeks, but no fixture fits that tag as well as this one. Although Swansea are not guaranteed three points at relegated Sunderland (as we know all too well), should they claim victory on Saturday, City will simply have to beat Palace the following afternoon to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
And even if Swansea fail to win, it is hard to see a route to survival that doesn’t involve a City victory at Selhurst Park. The picture is a very bleak one indeed.
Marco Silva and his players cannot afford to dwell on this, however. A repeat of the performance that saw bottom-of-the-table Sunderland win at the KCOM last weekend will end City’s spell as a Premier League club. Changes to the XI that started that game are therefore likely, with Tom Huddlestone and Evandro perhaps top of Silva’s list for a return to the side.
Although the battle for survival has been seen through the prism of Hull City or Swansea for a while, Palace are themselves not 100% safe yet. A surprise loss at home to Burnley, followed by a thumping at Manchester City, have dragged Big Sam’s side back into the fold. The task for them on Sunday is simple – avoid defeat and survival is secured. With an away day at Manchester United looming on the final weekend of the season, Palace will be looking to get the job done as soon as possible. City can therefore expect a tough battle.
The Tigers took all three points the last time the two sides met at Selhurst two years ago, yet City’s overall record there does not make for good reading. That victory in 2015 ended a run of 11 winless trips to Palace stretching back to 1986. Optimists who fancy City to stage a late surge for survival can get 11/4 on an away win, while the more pessimistic among us might be tempted to back a Palace victory at EVS.
Harry Drew (@(hdrew95 )