Manchester City head into this evening’s game against Crystal Palace without the services of five first-team regulars.
Whilst Manuel Pellegrini and co. will still be widely tipped to beat Palace at the Etihad, the absence of so many influential stars will certainly have given the coaching staff some cause for concern in the build-up to the tie.
Palace themselves are likely to be without the likes of Connor Wickham, Joel Ward and Pape Souare tonight, as the trio target this Saturday’s Premier League clash against Manchester United as the date for their return, but after suffering two frustrating defeats in a row, there will almost certainly be a desire to put things right under the floodlights tonight.
Although you can never be sure about the relative strengths of starting line-ups in the League Cup, most would assume that Alan Pardew will aim to play a competitive XI, in the hope of catching City’s superstars cold early on, particularly when you consider the depth of injuries they’re currently being forced to contend with.
Thoughts will inevitably stretch back to our last meeting with the Blues, when it took a last-gasp winner from academy man Kelechi Iheanacho to separate the two teams at Selhurst Park, proving beyond any doubt that we are more than capable of matching the top four regulars when on our game. With Dwight Gayle almost certain to return to the side having served his one match suspension after being sent off against West Ham, Pardew and his coaching staff will be hopeful of more cutting edge in the final third, following an extremely frustrating afternoon away to Leicester last Saturday.
You can be pretty sure that the majority of Palace fans would swap a win tonight for three points against Manchester United next weekend, but there is little reason to assume that a defeat is the only possible outcome of tonight’s clash, given the circumstances surrounding both clubs in the run-up to the game.