Manchester City expecting tough match at Palace says Guardiola

Palace, which beat City 2-0 away in October with goals from Zaha and Conor Gallagher, has lost one of their its eight games in all competitions.

The City manager also heaped praise on Palace boss Patrick Vieira, who captained Arsenal to three league titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player.   -  REUTERS

Crystal Palace's physical attributes and the quality of their forward Wilfried Zaha will pose a difficult challenge for Manchester City when the teams meet in the Premier League on Monday, City manager Pep Guardiola said.

Palace, which beat City 2-0 away in October with goals from Zaha and Conor Gallagher, has lost one of their its eight games in all competitions.

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"Seeing their run, the physicality, organisation, quality up front especially with Zaha. When they defend deep, they're so difficult to break down," Guardiola told reporters on Thursday.

"Selhurst Park is always a difficult place to go. It's like a final for us, we know it."

The City manager also heaped praise on Palace boss Patrick Vieira, who captained Arsenal to three league titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player.

"Patrick knows the Premier League perfectly, he has been one of the best players of all time in this league," said Guardiola.

"He knows the stadiums, the media, and the smell of the competition in the Premier League, which is an advantage. Personally, I'm happy it's going well (for him)."

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City is top on 69 points from 28 matches, six points ahead of Liverpool but having played a game more, and is into to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, after easing past Sporting on Wednesday, and FA Cup where it visits Southampton.

Guardiola put aside talk that his side can win all three competitions to claim a treble this season, insisting that City was taking it one game at a time.

"No, (thoughts about the treble are) lower than zero on my mind," Guardiola said. "This is the reality, you should understand the level is so competitive, so difficult.

"What we have to do is try and win at Palace. Step by step, recover, increase our levels, then we'll see."

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Guardiola also declined to comment on the circumstances at Chelsea, who are now effectively controlled by the British government after sanctions were imposed against the club's Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday.

"The position for the Chelsea manager and players, it must be an uncomfortable situation but I don't know what's going to happen," Guardiola said.

"I prefer to wait when I don't have knowledge about any subject, and this is what I have to do. I don't want to say anything uncomfortable for Chelsea or our club."

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