Manchester City vs Crystal Palace predictions: Hosts to triumph
Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City will be well aware of the threat posed by Crystal Palace when they host the Eagles for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday.
Palace's record of two wins and a draw from their last four Premier League games at the Etihad speaks for itself and they have already upset the apple cart this season, nabbing a point at Anfield earlier this month.
City are looking to return to winning ways after a thrilling 3-3 draw with an Allan Saint-Maximin-inspired Newcastle at St James' Park last weekend.
Pep Guardiola's men, who showed their mettle when coming from two goals down on Tyneside, can expect to face another couple of deadly dribblers in the visiting Eagles team this weekend, with Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze both starting the season in fine form.
City's latest injury problem concerns Kalvin Phillips, who sustained an injury in their midweek friendly with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
The England midfielder had only played one minute of Premier League football in the first three games of the campaign, but his loss comes at a time when Guardiola would have been looking to rotate more.
Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri will therefore probably all start in the engine room once more, although the Catalan coach could drop Bernardo Silva or Phil Foden into deeper roles in order to freshen up the attack.
Aymeric Laporte remains sidelined after undergoing knee surgery over the summer, while Jack Grealish (ligament) and Nathan Ake (groin) are both doubts.
Ruben Dias, who replaced Ake in the first half against the Magpies last Sunday, is set to be recalled at centre-back — alongside John Stones, Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo in City's back four.
Patrick Vieira experimented with his formation in Palace's 1-1 draw with Liverpool two weeks ago, opting for a 5-4-1 at Anfield, and could re-implement the system on Saturday.
That would probably see Odsonne Edouard, one of only two from last weekend's line-up to start against Oxford in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, dropping back down to the bench.
Zaha would switch back to a roaming role in attack with Nathaniel Clyne returning to a full-back role and Joel Ward moving inside as one of three central defenders.
Edouard's place is under threat even if Vieira sticks with a 4-3-3 system that was deployed at home to Aston Villa last weekend after fellow striker Jean-Philippe Mateta popped up with a crucial goal off the bench.
On the injury front, James McArthur is doubtful with a groin problem, while James Tomkins (calf), Jack Butland (broken wrist) and Nathan Ferguson (foot) all remain sidelined for the visitors.
City have lost just two of their last 54 league games played at 3pm on Saturdays, both of those defeats came against Palace.
City (3.77) and Palace (2.93) finished first and second for the most expected goals created in the division last weekend.
De Bruyne has assisted goals in all three of City's Premier League matches this term and his 12 chances created is the most of any player in the top flight.
Eze, who has been involved in six goals in his last eight league starts away from home, has recorded the most successful dribbles (14) in the division.
Eagles winger Zaha is off to a flying start in 2022-23, netting three times in three appearances after registering a career-best 14 goals last term.
City cannot take anything for granted against the Eagles this weekend and will probably refocus on solidifying their structure after the rare occurrence of them conceding three times last weekend.
Palace's objective will be to block off all the usual passing lanes that Guardiola's men are trained to exploit, which is where five across the back will stand them in good stead in defending the wide overloads City love to create.
Zaha could be cut adrift in attack, however, and that will limit their prospects of counter-attacking on City or earning attacking set-pieces from which to score.
The champions could well win this with a clean sheet if it all goes to plan, although they will be made to work hard for their openings.