Crystal Palace’s collective morale received a significant boost last weekend, with Luka Milivojevic’s first-half strike proving enough to triumph over an up-and-down Leicester City side but this Saturday, they travel to Manchester City for a game which as close to a “free hit” as it’s possible to have in the Premier League.
Roy Hodgson’s men have now picked up six points in their last four league fixtures; a return which doesn’t seem too bad in hindsight, even though back-to-back losses to Brighton and West Ham in the middle of that run led to many fans wondering aloud whether or not time was beginning to run short on the gaffer’s stint in charge in SE25.
Luckily, home victories over Burnley and Claude Puel’s Foxes have book-ended those two defeats, giving us a five-point cushion on the bottom three ahead of the most mentally daunting tie of the season away to Pep Guardiola’s title-chasing sky blues. With thoughts already turning to how we can keep the score down, the appointment of Andre Marriner as referee will neither enthuse of infuriate the travelling Palace faithful, after a string of non-controversial matches with him in the middle over the last year or so.
The man in black presided over all three of our clashes with Brighton last season, a series which brought one draw, one defeat and one victory, as well as overseeing our home loss to Swansea, home win over Chelsea and a 1-1 draw with Newcastle at Selhurst Park. This term, he’s been involved in just one Palace fixture, ironically another draw against Newcastle at Selhurst, giving us very little reason to head into the game with fears over his ability to keep control of proceedings.
Our first (seemingly impossible) task up against the reigning Champions will be to try and keep a clean sheet, should we inexplicably manage to pull off such a feat, you can assume that Mr Marriner won’t have done much to hinder our chances of the day.
Keep everything crossed.