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Wasteful Man City’s title bid hit by Palace stalemate

London (AFP) – Manchester City wasted a host of chances in a damaging 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday that severely dented their bid to retain the Premier League title.

Pep Guardiola’s side had 18 shots and 74 percent of the possession, but left Selhurst Park ruing a series of misses on a significant night in the title race.

Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte were guilty of the most glaring miscues, with Palace keeper Vicente Guaita keeping the leaders at bay with several saves.

With second placed Liverpool having won at Brighton on Saturday, City are now just four points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Liverpool can close to within one point of City if they win their game in hand at fourth placed Arsenal on Wednesday.

City had won four of their last five league games, including a scintillating 4-1 demolition of Manchester United in their most recent top-flight outing.

But, given Liverpool’s red-hot form, the stalemate in south London could tip the balance of power towards Merseyside.

Liverpool have been so relentless that City need to be perfect to hold them off, and this draw, together with the recent defeat against Tottenham, have left them vulnerable to the Reds’ sustained assault.

After making a host of changes for the goalless Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon last week, Guardiola recalled Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez as he reverted to the line-up that dominated the Manchester derby.

Guardiola insisted City were treating the match like “a final” because of the threat posed by Palace, who beat them 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium in October.

Mahrez tried to set the tone when he cut inside to the edge of the Palace area for a curling effort that whistled past the far post.

The champions were almost caught out after Jean-Philippe Mateta stole possession and played in Michael Olise for an outside of the boot effort that flashed just wide.

– City frustration –

Silva should have put City ahead after Guaita spilled De Bruyne’s blast but, rather than shoot, he elected to dribble round the Palace keeper and watched in horror as the ball rolled out for a goal-kick.

In a spell-binding period of City pressure, John Stones was inches away with a 25-yard rocket that deflected wide, while Mahrez tested Guaita with a low drive.

De Bruyne hooked an audacious effort over his shoulder, forcing Guaita to palm away, before Laporte produced an awful miss.

Joao Cancelo’s fierce strike cannoned back off the post to the unmarked Laporte, who had the goal at his mercy but somehow contrived to shoot high over the bar from close-range.

Guardiola’s men were pouring forward in waves but Palace refused to let the floodgates open and Guaita saved again from Mahrez, who also shot narrowly wide at the end of a one-sided first half.

Cheikhou Kouyate nearly gave Palace the lead against the run of play when he headed wide from close-range soon after the interval.

City immediately responded and De Bruyne hit the post from an acute angle before Mahrez fired the rebound over.

Camped in Palace’s half, City were becoming visibly frustrated by Palace’s obdurate resistence.

Guardiola held his head in his hands after Silva stretched but failed to reach Jack Grealish’s cross as it flashed across goal.

City had no answer to Palace’s massed defence, although Guardiola’s refusal to make an substitutions was a curious move.

By the time Grealish’s shot was blocked, City appeared resigned to their fate and, in a fitting finale, Laporte could only head De Bruyne’s free-kick tamely at Guaita.

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  1. Yespage

    March 15, 2022 at 11:39 am

    Liverpool are on form and City are a bit off form for the moment. Their matchup will be critical, but really every game counts. Truly, L’pool, other than a stretch of a couple months last year, have played exceedingly well for the last three seasons. And in order to stay ahead of that, City have to be perfect, and most teams are rarely ever perfect.

    Looking forward to a strong final quarter of the season. Hopefully L’pool pull it off and get an EPL Championship celebration at Anfield they should have had last time.

    • Michael F

      March 15, 2022 at 11:46 am

      Luis Diaz acquisition was big and adding him has really given Liverpool an added dimension to their attack and the depth they might not have had in previous seasons, certainly not last season.

      • Lou

        March 15, 2022 at 12:16 pm

        Yes. And City not having a true striker may come back to haunt them. Signing Haaland may be a necessity and not a luxury.

  2. Michael F

    March 14, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    I want to revisit this topic now where some of those people who comment regularly on this site (here’s talking to you Mercator – smile) who so confidently stated back in late December or early January that Manchester City already won the Premier League title.

    What you say now? This Premier League race is no way over with. It’s probably going down to the wire.

    And btw it’s been a GREAT season of English Premier League football.

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