Setting record is synonymous with Pep Guardialo and this weekend he would be hoping to equal another record he set during his time at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, as he take his high flying Manchester City on a visit to Crystal Palacetomorrow. A win at Selhurst Park will equal Bayern’s European league record of 19 straight wins
A fter a hard-fought victory against Newcastle, Manchester City is set for another record-breaking mission as they visit Crystal Palace who would prove to be a hard nut to crack after the loss to Arsenal on Thursday.
City would be boosted by the return of their inspirational captain, Vincent Kompany, who is expected to be available forSunday’s trip to Crystal Palace after manager Pep Guardiola said the injury suffered by the defender against Newcastle United was only a minor knock.
Kompany, who has suffered a series of injury setbacks over the last two years, was substituted after 10 minutes at St James’ Park before City went on to win 1-0 to extend their lead to 15 points at the top of league table.
“Vincent is not as bad as we thought,” said Guardiola. “He will be ready for the next fixtures. We will know exactly tomorrow, but it is not a big issue.”
Guardiola also added that Fabian Delph could be fit for Palace but defender John Stones, who is out of action with a hamstring injury, is not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.
“Fabian was not fit for Newcastle, but he is much better now. We will see. Fabian is a similar case to Vincent – he knows his body,” the manager said.
“John Stones is also much better. I think he will be fit for the next game (Watford) which is huge news for us.”
City have won a record 18 consecutive league games, with midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and winger Raheem Sterling attracting particular praise for their performances. However, Guardiola highlighted defender Nicolas Otamendi’s contributions as the key reason for their recent success.
“Everybody has spoken about a lot of players like Raheem, Kevin, Sergio Aguero, they deserve it, but if I can point some attention to a player who deserves the respect is Nico.
“He has been amazing – he is one of the hugest competitors I have ever seen in my life. I cannot imagine the situation we are in at the moment in terms of the table without him. It would have been impossible.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool welcome Leicester City today, as the Reds attempt to cut the gap on Manchester United and Chelsea. Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp has watched his team score 12 goals in their last three league matches, and the Foxes will be wary of Liverpool’s attack.
Leicester hold eighth spot in the table but are 10 points behind Arsenal in sixth.
There is little wrong with Liverpool’s forward selection, but with the imminent arrival of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, there will be renewed optimism on Merseyside.
The Dutchman will watch his new team-mates feature against Leicester ahead of his £75 million transfer to Anfield. The centre-back will train with the Reds for the first time after the clash against Burnley on January 1.
Liverpool have been desperate to add quality at the back for two years, but they will have to manage with their current options on Saturday.
The Foxes’ form has improved overall under new coach Claude Puel, who joined the team in October. However, they have lost two of their last three matches in the league.
The Frenchman lost his job at Southampton last season, but his pedigree is undeniable after spells at Monaco and Lyon.
The Foxes recently pegged back Manchester United in a stunning 2-2 draw at home, and they will now attempt to reinforce their quality on the road.
Recent victories at Newcastle United and Southampton prove Leicester can score goals away from home. However, it could be a clash of styles when they face the Reds.
Both teams like to counter-attack, but Liverpool have a world-class forward line that is firing on all cylinders.
If Vardy’s movement can be tracked and controlled, Klopp’s men will outscore their opponents to secure the points.
Liverpool are only second to Manchester City for the most goals scored in the Premier League this season, and the Foxes do not have the depth at the back to stop Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as they dovetail with Philippe Coutinho.
However, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the club’s fortunes this season could be decided by whether they acquire significant reinforcements in the January transfer window.
The defending Premier League champions have struggled to cope with the added demands of playing in the Champions League, despite signing six players at the start of the campaign.
Third-placed Chelsea have fallen 16 points behind league leaders Manchester City but could still lift a trophy having reached the 1ast-16 of Europe’s elite club competition and the League Cup semifinals.
“I am very happy to stay here and to work with these players but I think the transfer window could be important if we are able to find the right players,” Conte told a news conference on Friday.
“Otherwise we continue to work with these players. I am very happy to work with them and for sure the club is trying to do its best in the transfer market to improve the squad and our numerical aspect.
“I’m a coach, I have to work with my players and my task is on the pitch. The transfer market is for the club and they must decide if they want to improve my squad.”
Conte also dismissed speculation surrounding the future of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and winger Eden Hazard at the club, saying the two players are key to the club’s ambitions of collecting more major trophies in the future.
“It will be very important to continue with these types of players especially for your ambition to try to compete for something important,” the Italian manager added.
“It is important to try and improve your team, to strengthen and not to sell the best players.”
Conte also said that Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns ahead of today’s league fixture against Stoke City, with the manager hoping to have defender David Luiz and midfielder Charly Musonda available for next weekend’s FA Cup tie at Norwich City.