Manchester City will look to keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal when they take on Crystal Palace on Saturday.
After enduring a stuttering start to the year, City now find themselves in good form. Having dispatched of Bournemouth, Bristol City and Newcastle over the past week-and-a-half, Pep Guardiola’s side have the chance to win a fourth successive game for the first time since November.
With Arsenal not playing Fulham until Sunday afternoon, a win at Selhurst Park would bring City within two points of the summit.
Crystal Palace have become something of a bogey team for City in recent times, so that could be easier said than done.
Last season Patrick Vieira’s side inflicted a 2-0 home defeat on the Blues, before holding the eventual champions to a goalless draw in south London.
When the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season it was Palace that flew into an earlier two-goal lead, but a second-half Erling Haaland hattrick turned the game in City’s favour.
City have no major injury concerns heading into the meeting, the first time that has been the case since before the World Cup. On Friday Guardiola confirmed that Phil Foden is fit despite suffering a flair-up of his foot injury last weekend.
While some may be tempted to look ahead to the crucial Champions League last-16 second leg meeting with RB Leipzig next week, Guardiola knows better than to field weakened starting line-ups in the Premier League.
Ederson of course picks himself, as does Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake. Given the way that Palace have stifled City’s build-up play in recent meetings, Aymeric Laporte could come into the defence and push Ake out to the left.
With the Leipzig game likely to be more end-to-end and dynamic, Rico Lewis could come in at right-back to save Kyle Walker’s legs. If he does, then he will tuck into midfield when City have possession, leaving a back three of Dias-Laporte-Ake.
Rodri will start in holding midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva as the number eights. It’s a big call to drop Kevin de Bruyne, but his performance against Newcastle last weekend showed he needs a couple of games out of the spotlight.
Guardiola could favour Riyad Mahrez’s control in the Leipzig game, meaning he goes with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish as his wingers against Palace. Erling Haaland is certain to start.
Starting XI: Ederson, Lewis, Dias, Laporte, Ake, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Foden, Haaland, Grealish