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Key clashes: Man City v Palace

December 20 2018

Max Meyer

Max Meyer

Hunter Young assesses the major player battles as Crystal Palace travel to Manchester City to take on the title holders.

In what is probably the toughest match of the season, Palace will go north to face off against the second-place Citizens. The team from the blue half of Manchester has dropped only five points this campaign and will be looking to get three from this game as they attempt to keep pace with Liverpool. Despite coming off an important win over Leicester City last week, the Eagles would be thrilled to leave the Etihad with a point.

Patrick van Aanholt v Raheem Sterling

The reigning Premier League Player of the Month, Raheem Sterling, is having an excellent season for the Citizens. The winger has shaken off the World Cup disappointment on his way to scoring nine goals. He's not only the leading scorer but it leaves him only one off the league's top scorers Mo Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

If there is a game in which Patrick van Aanholt will limit his forays into the attack it will be this one. Sterling’s skill on the ball and speed off it make him a tough task for any defence. Therefore, if Van Aanholt gets caught up the field, he could put the rest of the defence in a tough position. The left-back has the pace to keep up with Sterling but will have to be mentally up to the challenge as well.

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Max Meyer v Fernandinho

Despite being the somewhat advanced age of 33, there is little doubt about who the heart of the Manchester City engine room is. Brazilian midfielder Ferdandinho is the only outfield player other than Aymeric Laporte to appear in all of the Citizens’ matches. While he often leaves much of the playmaking to his teammates, Fernandinho is an excellent stopper and skilled passer who affects all areas of the game.

Now that he has established himself in the first team, Max Meyer is showing Palace fans the player he is capable of. The German’s deft footwork and sharp passing can leave defenders baffled as he roams the midfield with his fluid positioning. If Meyer can use his quickness to evade Ferdandinho, it could open up chances for the Eagles attack to threaten City’s goal.

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Vicente Guaita v Sergio Aguero

While Sterling currently leads the team in goals this season, City’s all-time Premier League goal scorer, Sergio Aguero, is bearing down his neck with eight goals. The Argentinian striker has rotated starting and coming off the bench with Gabriel Jesus this season, but there are few better in the top flight to call on if goals are required.

Due to a back injury to Wayne Hennessey, Vicente Guaita got his first Premier League start last week. Other than one shaky moment, in which he avoided embarrassment due to a Jamie Vardy foul, Guaita played well and made vital saves to secure the clean sheet. If Guaita gets the start and can keep Aguero off the score sheet, it will go a long way towards to helping the Eagles get something from the match.

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