Manchester City ensured Crystal Palace’s miserable campaign continued as they ruthlessly put the Eagles to the sword in a 5-0 demolition at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League leaders originally struggled to break through an impressive first-half performance from the away side, but a Leroy Sane goal on the stroke of half-time proved to be the turning point. Palace had their chances but a moment of brilliance from the German hotshot nudged Pep Guardiola’s men ahead.
Four second-half goals were added to the tally as Palace totally surrendered a game they were very much in. Raheem Sterling grabbed a brace, Sergio Aguero nodded in a header before Sane added a fifth. As concerning as Palace were in defence, City were rampant in their current form with 16 goals without reply in three matches. Palace’s attack remains in a crisis as they became the first team in English Football League history to lose their opening six games without scoring, but the worst was still to come.
Palace’s only fit striker Christian Benteke succumbed to a knee ligament injury in the second-half, leaving new Eagles boss Roy Hodgson with no options up top for the next two months. The ultimate nightmare was always inevitably going to happen given the South Londoners’ rotten luck this season. Tuesday’s match-winning forward Bakary Sako is expected to be converted into a central striker until Benteke or Connor Wickham return. Alternatively, star performer Ruben Loftus-Cheek may play up top given his promising attacking threat in recent games. The Chelsea loanee hit a post in the first-half at the Etihad and had another real opportunity before the deadlock was broken by Sane.
When you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, Palace just continue to cause the most depressing situation in recent football memory. As unlucky as we were in the opening 45 minutes, the game is of two halves. That second-half collapse is indefensible, leaving me with little desire to write further about it. My match reports wouldn’t be so brief if the team wouldn’t continue to depress us all. Manchester United away next. Only the joint leaders with the best defensive record, then. All of that, without a recognised striker for backup. Steve Parish, everyone. I will leave it at that to remain as neutral and without opinion as I can. Shambles, on an increasingly historic scale. When will it stop?