54 min: Luka Milivojevic is caught in two minds on halfway and, attempting to pick out Patrick van Aanholt, he spoons his pass out for a throw-in. Agonising for Palace. City are strolling around but they could do with putting the game out of sight sooner rather than later.
50 min: Laporte makes a mess of a routine ball into the box by Townsend, allowing Zaha to jink inside. Every time Zaha picks it up – he has been too isolated for Palace’s liking – City do look nervy. Also, Dean Kiely is on Roy Hodgson’s backroom staff at Palace. Who knew?
48 min: Vicente Guaita smothers as Kevin de Bruyne’s delicious first-time ball into the box causes confusion in the Palace ranks. Martin Kelly swings a foot at it and it cannons off him before the goalkeeper gathers. Sergio Agüero and David Silva were both lurking, but Palace survive. City have certainly started this second half as they finished the first. This is turning into a painful exercise for Palace.
47 min: Ilkay Gündogan swivels away from Milivojevic around 25 yards from goal as City probe. Gündogan has been majestic in the City midfield.
46 min: Palace get us back under way. They can’t be any more dour, can they? City are going to dominate possession but Palace need to be much more aggressive.
The players are back out at Selhurst Park. For all the buildup and team news at Anfield, join Rob Smyth for Liverpool v Chelsea:
Half-time Championship reading:
Half-time: Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester City
Raheem Sterling’s strike is the difference at the interval, but this has been a cakewalk for Pep Guardiola’s side. The scoreline can be anything they want. Palace have been passive at best.
45 min: There will be two added minutes.
44 min: Palace – somehow – still only trail by a single goal. Totally free of any Palace pressure, Gündogan leisurely flights a weighted pass into the six-yard box, where City are queuing up to hammer in a second. In the end, pinball ensues, with De Bruyne whacking the ball goalwards and Palace get off lightly, by conceding just a corner. The simplicity with which City arrived into the Palace box summed up what has been a dreadful half as far as Roy Hodgson’s side are concerned. Manchester City are cruising.
41 min: Leroy Sané hangs in a cross to the back post, where van Aanholt is well placed to clean things up. But the Dutchman loses his bearings and, lost inside the box, ends up heading the ball on to the roof of the Palace net. City get the corner, but Kouyaté rushes out to make life difficult. The former West Ham midfielder has at least attempted to force City to work a bit harder since coming on to replace the injured Jeffrey Schlupp.
38 min: Kouyaté steams in to nick the ball away from an unsuspecting De Bruyne on halfway. City soon turn it over, with De Bruyne fizzing a diagonal towards the back post, where Sergio Agüero is lurking. But the ball is overcooked as far as Agüero is concerned, though De Bruyne berates his team-mate for failing to latch on to what was a cute – but slightly heavy – pass.
37 min: David Silva and James McArthur end up wrestling for the ball, with the latter on the floor and locking the ball between his knees. But Martin Atkinson blows for a foul against the City midfielder, allowing Palace, who have been camped round the 18-yard box, to push out from defence. But it does not last long, as they are forced to repel another wave of City attacks.
34 min: Milivojevic’s cross-field ball is wayward. City stroke the ball around in defence as they seek to further tighten their grip on an already one-sided game.
30 min: Palace string a few passes together – and it’s a really well-worked move in the box. Something to hold on to for Palace fans and encouraging stuff for Roy Hodgson. Ilkay Gündogan did brilliantly to hook the ball clear after Zaha came alive to cause havoc. Benteke knocked the ball down into the path of Kouyaté after a neat, dinked ball into the danger area by Milivojevic.
28 min: Agüero tries his luck – but his effort is always rising.
27 min: Benteke bullies Kompany on halfway to hold the ball up, before finding Townsend, who looks for the substitute Kouyaté. But Martin Atkinson blows his whistle for a foul on Laporte, the City defender. Palace just cannot find a way to lay a glove on Pep Guardiola’s side.
25 min: A glimmer of hope for Palace as Zaha lines up Walker one-on-one, but Sterling steals in to rescue the ball and get City moving forward once more. This has been peerless from City, as underwhelming as Palace have been.
24 min: De Bruyne plays in Silva, who fizzes in a dangerous ball across goal. But Scott Dann is there to hack it away. The ball just keeps coming back at a helpless Palace defence.
21 min: Cheikhou Kouyaté replaces the injured Schlupp, as another Palace move breaks down at the first attempt. The outlook is rosy for City, however. According to Opta, Manchester City have gone on to win each of the last 26 Premier League matches in which Sterling has found the net.
19 min: Sterling requires some treatment, while Schlupp is hobbling after clashing with Vincent Kompany. He will do well to carry on.
17 min: Manchester City are back on top of the Premier League – for now at least. That was a slick counter and a superb finish by Sterling, minutes after he squandered a huge – and far easier – chance from a couple of yards out.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester City (Sterling, 15)
Palace cannot say it hadn’t been coming. But it actually stems from Palace failing to do anything with a free-kick in the opposition half and, once City had seized possession, they seamlessly switched from defence into attack. After surging forward, De Bruyne effortlessly slips in Sterling, and the forward emphatically thrashes the ball into the top corner. An incisive break, a stunning finish.
14 min: Sterling fouls Zaha and Palace have a first chance to get the centre-backs forward to cause problems. Van Aanholt’s cross is poor in truth and City have the chance to instead counter after Kompany wins the ball.
13 min: Vicente Guaita gobbles a cross in from the right, allowing Palace some respite at the end of another City attack. Palace’s midfield has morphed into its defence, while Benteke is barely outside his own half.
10 min: Sterling rolls painfully wide! Guardiola has his head in his hands as Sterling, totally unmarked, passes the ball beyond the post after some sheer brilliance by David Silva. The Spaniard danced to the byline, twisting and bamboozling his way past James McArthur before laying the ball on a plate for Sterling. He really should have stuck the ball away.
9 min: City are patiently probing. Palace seem happy to soak it up.
7 min: This time the corner is cleared, with Benteke nodding away inside his own box. Kompany had again lost his marker but City failed to pick him out.
6 min: Gündogan’s corner causes confusion, with Kompany’s burst to the front post panicking Palace but they clear their lines. City win the ball on the edge of the area through de Bruyne, and then Mendy, and the visitors earn another corner. It’s one-way traffic.
5 min: Wan-Bissaka makes a clever challenge on Sané. City will swing the resulting corner in …
4 min: Benteke does well to hold the ball and feed Schlupp. They garner a bit of joy off the second ball, which culminates in Miliovjevic having a pop from 25 yards. It sails over, but that’s as good as it’s got so far for Palace.
3 min: Palace fans are making a racket, but it’s all City, attack v defence so far.
2 min: Silva gets his feet in a muddle as he attempts to convert Kyle Walker’s dangerous low cross goalwards. Half a chance for City. Palace, firmly in the shadow in the early stages, have not had a sniff.
1 min: Kevin de Bruyne flights in an early free-kick from the right but Scott Dann clears. City duly recycle possession, with Palace getting 11 men entrenched behind the ball. It could be a long afternoon for Palace.
Sergio Agüero kicks things off for Manchester City.
Here we go then … will Manchester City do their bit?
Teemu Pukki nets Norwich an equaliser; that’s his 28th goal of the season. A huge final 10 minutes are in store in a big game at the top and bottom of the Championship. Do join Rob Smyth:
“Your wingers don’t like him! Wan-Bissaka! Wan-Bissaka” ♫♫ Sané will keep the Palace full-back busy but Mendy could have his hands full on his first league start in five months:
Team news news: Benjamin Mendy starts his first Premier League match since 11 November as Pep Guardiola makes four changes to his Manchester City team. Gone are the days of hoax trips to Hong Kong or going clubbing at 3am. Kevin de Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Leroy Sané – all of whom were given a bit of a breather at Tottenham Hotspur in midweek – are also back in from the off, while Fernandinho is absent. For Palace, Christian Benteke starts his first league match since 9 February. Guardiola says “we’ll see”, when asked about Fernandinho’s fitness for Wednesday v Spurs.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic; Schlupp, Townsend, Zaha; Benteke
Subs: Hennessey, Ward, Meyer, Kouyaté, Ayew, Batshuayi, Sako
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Gündogan, D Silva; De Bruyne, Sané, Sterling; Agüero
Subs: Muric, Danilo, Stones, B Silva, Mahrez, Otamendi, Jesus
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Over to you, Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side can regain pole position in the Premier League – if only momentarily until Liverpool do battle with Chelsea at Anfield. It feels like a momentous day for City’s title hopes, and those aspirations of landing an unprecedented quadruple, but next week could well have an even greater say on proceedings, while they visit Old Trafford on 24 April. City arrive in south London looking to rack up a ninth consecutive league victory, knowing a win would pile the pressure on Liverpool to get the job done later this afternoon. They did slip up in the Champions League at Tottenham in midweek, though that defeat does not truly blemish their impeccable form of late; they have conceded just once in their past seven league outings. The availability of Bernardo Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko is in the balance because of their match fitness.
City will be wary, acutely aware that Selhurst Park has proved a graveyard for title campaigns in recent history, with Liverpool coming unstuck there in 2014 and City a year later. A more salient example of the threat posed by Crystal Palace is the way in which Andros Townsend helped Palace to an unlikely victory at the Etihad in December, the only team to prosper there in the league this season. As for Palace, they are saying all the right things. It is impossible to envisage Roy Hodgson’s side – 11 points above Cardiff – going down but they are not yet mathematically safe. “The teams below us would have a lot to do to catch us,” Hodgson said.
Kick-off: 2.05pm (BST)
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