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  • Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park

Vieira demands more consistency from troubled Crystal Palace after defeat to champions City


Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 1


Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park


In a rain swept corner of south-east London, the difficulties are beginning to cast an alarming shadow for shot-shy Crystal Palace.


Still to record a victory in 2023, the industrious Eagles simply could not hold out for ninety minutes against champions Manchester City, with Erling Haaland making the eventual difference in the second half from the penalty spot.


In terms of statistics, it all makes bleak, current reading for Patrick Vieira. Once again, the Palace manager could only watch as his men failed to trouble City keeper Ederson with a worthwhile effort, such was their preoccupation with being forced to defend throughout.


The second period in particular was one of toil for the Londoners, who rarely foraged into City’s half, far less their penalty area. It is now five defeats and five draws from their last ten league outings for Palace, who sit only four points above the relegation zone. Vieira must undertake some serious thinking to avoid being sunk by stealth by the end of the campaign.


If the Eagles are to be commended for their diligence at least – and perhaps on another day it would have earned them a point – their troubles in relation to scoring were once again apparent. Too much reliance on Wilfried Zaha, who has had injury problems this season, is hampering Palace in their mission to put themselves in a position of complete Premier League safety.


Pressure


For City, this was one of those days where they ground out the kind of win which can keep them on course for retaining their title. Pep Guardiola’s side maintain the pressure on leaders Arsenal, who travel across London to face Fulham tomorrow, with two points between them.


A largely flat encounter, the soporific first 45 minutes in particular was hardly a grand announcement for the self-proclaimed prestige of England’s top tier, with even City powerhouse Haaland finding himself off target and well-contained by Palace.


Eagles’ wide man Michael Olise demonstrated his versatility, putting in a power of work on the defensive side as the hosts coped with the oppression set by ever-patient City, who were considerably short of their normal dynamism. It was unfortunate, then, that Olise was the man who eventually conceded the decisive penalty.


The Citizens were dominant from the restart, with Phil Foden and substitute Julian Alvarez missing opportunities, with Eagles’ keeper Vicente Guaita in fine form. Perhaps Vieira was convinced, as the clock ticked down, that Palace would secure a valuable draw – but Haaland had the ultimate say.


In the 76th minute, Olise made a winger’s typically ungainly tackle, on Ilkay Gundogan, for City’s spot kick. Norwegian star Haaland made no mistake, and in doing so ended Palace’s hitherto impressive resistance.


'Frustrated'


“I’m really frustrated, as we defended really well against City,” admitted Vieira. “The frustration was conceding the penalty as it gave away the hard work. Vicente played really well today and we needed to be at our best.


“It is important for us to be more consistent in our game. How to defend well and create chances.”


At this point in the season, Vieira conceded that the pressure is growing on Palace.


“We are now part of the nine teams who have to fight in our games to stay in the Premier League,” the Frenchman added.


“Shots on target is one thing but what is important is that we have to score goals and create enough in order to score those goals.


“We have changed a lot of things here and we want to play in a better way. The process is taking time but Michael (Olise) is growing as a player and he understands the game a lot better. We are pleased with the way he is progressing.”

Guardiola, meanwhile, left Selhurst Park relived.


“They defended really well but in the end we found the penalty,” said the City chief.


“At this stage of the season it’s really important. The guys have had a lot of pressure on them this season and he (Haaland) shows how happy he is here at this club, when he is expected to score five goals every game. But you can see this season is so unpredictable.”

For Palace, who face Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal in their next two games, matters are looking that bit more ominous.


Eagles: Guaita, Mitchell, Milivojevic (Ahamada 60), Guehi, Olise, Lokonga, Ayew, Zaha, Schlupp (Edouard 79), Andersen, Clyne (Ward 70)

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