Crystal Palace 0, Manchester City 0
Manchester City dropped two points in a goalless draw at Crystal Palace who were inspired by some energetic defending at Selhurst Park.Embed from Getty Images
City could now find themselves knocked off the the Premier League summit by the next time they play with title rivals Liverpool, only four points behind with a game in hand now, playing twice before City go to Burnley.
The Eagles became only the second team to stop Manchester City scoring twice in a season against Pep Guardiola’s City after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United last season.
City have had 32 attempts across both of their Premier League games against Crystal Palace without scoring this term, but curiously they only had four shots on goal in the second half at Selhurst Park after peppering their hosts in the first half.
Patrick Vieira’s side had weathered the first half storm, an unprecedented 14 shots without a goal from City – the most this season so far, before blunting the visitors’ attack despite some sumptuous passing from Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Eagles undoubtedly rode their luck at times, with City hitting the woodwork twice through Joao Cancelo and Kevin de Bruyne while Bernardo Silva was the most guilty of a glaring miss with Palace defending doggedly to block every City chance.
It was the kind of City performance that will once out the focus on City’s quest for a striker signing next season as they failed to breach the Palace defence.
Palace had their chances too as they efficiently counter attacked from midfield with their own energetic youngsters who couldn’t quite punish sloppiness in City’s defence – could this draw against Palace cost City dearly now?
Patrick Vieira, a former City player himself, knew the challenge and was proud of his players.
He said: “When you play against City you have to be ready because they will have chances but we dealt with them pretty well.
“It was a team effort, we conceded a lot of chances but the keeper deal with them well.
“We had to perform well and we needed a bit of luck too.
He reserved fulsome praise for the on-loan Chelsea midfielder Connor Gallagher, who covered 12.5km on the night – the most covered by any Palace player in the Premier League this term – impressive for a player who has done the most running for Palace in 15 out of his 25 Premier League starts for the club.
He said: ”Connor is full of energy and loves going forward so we used his energy to close them down – he’s strong and managed to win some balls.
“It’s a pity we didn’t score like in the game at the Etihad.
“We knew we wouldn’t have the possession and we had to prevent them from finding the space and force the ball wide.
“I thought the players executed the plan well.
“I have enjoyed working with the players because they are young and want to learn.
“We have played with confidence and we want to make the rest of the season exciting.”
Pep Guardiola defended his team’s lack of cutting edge and defended his lack of changes in a second half which saw their shots on goal dry up.
He said: “We played a really good game, created a lot of chances, especially in the first half.
“We had our chances but we couldn’t convert – sometimes it happens.
“I thought about making changes but the players were playing good.
“We didn’t score but we played to win the game and I have no regrets about the way we played.
“We have nine games to play, we have to win a lot of games.”
Bernardo Silva actually outran Gallagher by 43 metres in the game and while he was disappointed at not scoring he said there was a long way to go.
He said: “It was a tough game, we played well apart from one or two times we lost possession.
“We should have scored and we didn’t but I’d still rather be in our position than Liverpool’s – they still have to play at the Etihad.
“I had a great chance that I should have scored but sometimes games go this way.
“Playing away is never easy in the Premier League – teams are so organised.
“A draw is disappointing for us but there’s still a long way to go.”
Crystal Palace weather first half assault from Manchester City
City made six changes from the side that drew 0-0 at home against Sporting Lisbon.
Conrad Egan-Riley, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, and Raheem Sterling stepped down and on came Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, and Jack Grealish.
The youthful looking Crystal Palace were unchanged and they posed a serious problem to City from the start.
Connor Gallagher was a lively presence in midfield, dispossessing Aymeric Laporte and trying to lay in Wilfried Zaha but the ball ended up being hit into City’s side netting.
Michael Olise hit a shot wide of the back post as Palace capitalised on another midfield error to drive forward soon afterwards.
Vicente Guaita spilled a powerful shot by Kevin De Bruyne but Bernardo Silva’s heavy first touch put the rebounding ball wide when a first time shot would have had a decent chance of going past the prone Palace keeper.
Jean-Philippe Mateta’s shot was blocked by John Stones as Palace continued to pose a counter attacking threat.
Stones saw his shot deflected off Jeffrey Schlupp while Mahrez drew a save from Guaita and De Bruyne almost beat Guaita with a hooked shot while Foden’s long range shot was deflected wide.
Cancelo’s shot rattled the post – an amazing 18th times this term that City have hit the woodwork, more than any other team – and reached Laporte too fast for the City defender to direct the rebound on target – it flew over the bar with the Spain International in an offside position.
Mahrez’s low shot was saved by Guaita and Kouyate blocked from Foden as City peppered the Palace goal.
Zaha hit the ball well wide after Palace’s high press won them the ball off Rodri – a rare chance to upset City that went to waste.
Mahrez seized on a loose header from Marc Guehi to curl the ball just over the Palace bar as City again unable to convert their chances.
City racked up the chances in the second half, with De Bruyne hitting the post and Mahrez’ follow-up tipped over the bar by Guaita.
City had pushed Palace back to the edge of their own box but still couldn’t convert a chance and Patrick Vieira eventually made a double substitution – sending on Odsonne Edouard and Jordan Ayew for Mateta and Michael Olise after 65 minutes.
De Bruyne and Foden upped a gear and started rousing tricks and passes to try and get round the wall of Palace defenders without much success.
Grealish found space to cut the ball across the 6 yard box but Silva couldn’t get a solid touch on the ball, deflecting it wide with the goal at his mercy as he arrived in the box at full tilt.
Grealish had another shot which Kouyate blocked as City went into the last 15 minutes without breaching the Palace defence.
And Foden couldn’t convert a sublime De Bruyne pass from the right – the youngster had strayed offside in any case as City frustration increased.
Stones had to snatch the ball from Edouard while Zaha shot straight at Ederson as Palace remained in the running for a shock winner late on.
Frustration was high for City as De Bruyne fumed at his team mates lack of penetration and sloppiness in the final minutes.
De Bruyne’s cross found Laporte but his header came off Guehi and was gratefully collected by Guaita.
The energetic Gallagher pounced on a loose ball at the back and sent the ball over the bar in added time and might also have laid on a winner but for another interception by Stones.
MATCH STATS – Crystal Palace 0, Manchester City 0
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Andersen, Guess, Mitchell, Kouyate, Schlupp, Olise (J Ayew 65), Gallagher, Zaha, Mateta (Edouard 65)
Crystal Palace subs not used: Butland, Ward, Tomkins, Eze, Matthews, Benteke
Bookings: Kouyate 44 (foul on Kevin de Bruyne); Gallagher 83 (foul on Rodri); Edouard 90 (foul on Kyle Walker)
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Foden, Grealish
Man City subs not used: Steffen, Carson, Ake, Sterling, Gundogan, Jesus, Fernandinho, Mbete
Booking: Grealish 54 (foul on Connor Gallagher)
Referee: Martin Atkinson