Manchester City have done well to claw their way back into the title race but manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday that his first order of business is to ensure Crystal Palace do not earn another result against his side at home.
Palace have recorded a rare victory and a draw in the last two seasons on their trips to the Etihad Stadium and Guardiola said he was wary of their defensive resilience having held in-form Arsenal to a 0-0 draw on Thursday.
“The first part of the season was exciting. Every season when you are a contender in March or April it’s so exciting. In my head, and hopefully for the players, it is Crystal Palace,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Sunday’s game.
“In the last two seasons we weren’t able to beat them at home. Hopefully we can… A team like Palace knows exactly what they have to do. We have to be patient, find our rhythm.
“They defend so well, we saw that against Arsenal. They were able to control much of the game. It was tough in recent seasons when we lost and drew.”
Palace have won only once in their last seven games but Guardiola said every team in the league has suffered a slump at some point this season.
“All the clubs have had their ups and downs, this season more than ever,” Guardiola said.
“Every team has four good results and then after one or two bad ones. Palace are not an exception.”
Guardiola said injured defenders Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte will not be ready for the game while striker Sergio Aguero is still unavailable after self-isolating following close contact with a Covid-positive case.