Record-breaking league leaders Manchester City chase a 19th consecutive Premier League victory when they travel to relegation-battlers Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"Should City seal victory here they would equal the 19 consecutive wins that Bayern Munich strung together in the 2013-14 season under Pep Guardiola"
Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Sunday December 31, 12:00
Live on BT Sport
Crystal Palace's topsy-turvy campaign
It's been a strange old season for Crystal Palace supporters. The Eagles set an English football record by losing their first seven league games of the season without scoring a goal but went into Thursday night's fixture against Arsenal unbeaten in eight matches - their longest such run in the top-flight since 1990.
Roy Hodgson's troops went down 3-2 at Selhurst Park - failing to deal with the Gunners' short, intricate passing that time and again opened up their defence - but impressed going forward. Wilfried Zaha's trickery and Andros Townsend's industry alongside Christian Benteke's hold-up play particularly standing out.
Mamadou Sakho should be fit enough to return to the starting XI on Sunday having come off the bench against Arsenal while Joel Ward and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are also back in contention to bolster Palace's defensive options.
Manchester City's dominance
Manchester City extended their English top-flight record by recording an 18th successive Premier League success at Newcastle on Wednesday night. Raheem Sterling scored the only goal in a dominant display by the visitors to St James' Park in which they clocked up 78% of possession and 21 shots.
Sergio Aguero twice hit the woodwork in the opening half hour and Kevin De Bruyne thumped the post and then side-footed wide in the second half as the Citizens should have extended their advantage with Pep Guardiola admitting post-match it is "difficult to play" against ultra-defensive teams.
Vincent Kompany pulled up injured and will be missing for Sunday's trip to the capital but Eliaquim Mangala is waiting in the wings as a direct replacement for the City captain.
City hot favourites to seal another success
Manchester City have claimed 10 triumphs in their last 11 (W1-D0-L10) Premier League meetings against Crystal Palace with the most recent two encounters ending in 5-0 victories for the Citizens. The visitors have also silenced their South London hosts' in seven of their previous nine head-to-head contests.
Should City seal victory here they would equal the 19 consecutive wins that Bayern Munich strung together in the 2013-14 season under Pep Guardiola. No team in the English, Italian, German, Spanish or French top-flights have ever managed more and the Citizens are just 1.282/7 shots to pocket the points.
Crystal Palace 13.0012/1 have been beaten only twice in 11 outings and have already managed to turn over Chelsea on home turf. However, their W3-D1-L10 record when entertaining top-six finishers since the start of 2015/16 suggests such results are few and far between for Eagles supporters.
Both sides may oblige at Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace failed to find the back of the net until October in the Premier League but since then the Eagles have flourished in front of goal, particularly at Selhurst Park. Indeed, the hosts have notched at least twice in their last seven home fixtures with Both Teams To Score banking on each occasion.
The hosts have failed to record a clean sheet in South London this season suggesting Manchester City should have few problems finding the back of the net. And despite the runaway table-toppers' stunning form, it's worth noting the visitors have only shutout four of their last 11 league opponents.
In fact, Guardiola's charges have conceded on trips to Bournemouth, West Brom and Huddersfield and so while there's no value in backing Over 2.5 Goals at 1.444/9, it may pay to support an away-day victory alongside Both Teams To Score at a more generous 6/4.
The Citizens have W14-D1-L1 when travelling to bottom-half clubs under Pep with half of those triumphs banking in the BTTS column and 9/16 (56%) of encounters overall featuring both sides scoring.
Staked: 207.00 pts
Returned: 232.95 pts
P/L: +25.95 pts