Gabriel needed to kickstart Man City

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus may have to shoulder more goalscoring responsibility against Crystal Palace today, particularly if Sergio Aguero struggles to recover from a groin problem.
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus may have to shoulder more goalscoring responsibility against Crystal Palace today, particularly if Sergio Aguero struggles to recover from a groin problem.PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardiola's men look to return to winning ways without Silva and, possibly, Aguero

LONDON • Gabriel Jesus' return has come at a good time for Manchester City as they seek to move closer to Champions League qualification by beating Crystal Palace at home today.

The Brazil striker, 20, has made two appearances since recovering from a broken foot suffered at Bournemouth in February.

Having seen a goal disallowed in a 0-0 draw with Manchester United, he grabbed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough last weekend after being promoted from the bench to the starting line-up.

With Sergio Aguero struggling to recover from a groin problem, there is every chance that Jesus will start again today as City look to consolidate their top-four position.

They are just one point clear of fifth-placed United, who visit Arsenal tomorrow, and manager Pep Guardiola knows there is little room for error with only four league matches to play.

Guardiola's season has hit trouble lately, with those two league draws following an FA Cup semi-final defeat by Arsenal at Wembley. City have won just two of their last eight matches in all competitions.

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

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    Hull v Sunderland

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    Leicester v Watford

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    Bournemouth v Stoke

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"It is still in our hands. If we win all four games, we will definitely be in the Champions League, maybe in the third position," the City manager said yesterday.

City have struggled playing at the Etihad this season, with eight wins from 16 games, but have 11 victories from 18 on their travels.

Guardiola said: "I definitely prefer to play at home than away. Hopefully we can play with the same enthusiasm as we do away.

"The team are more inconsistent than consistent this season. That's why we suffered. I realise how they play here and I have to adapt."

It was expected that City would be lifted by the prospect of David Silva's return from a knee injury suffered during the Wembley defeat after pictures of the midfielder were published of him training on Thursday. But Guardiola confirmed the optimism was misplaced.

"Yesterday was his first training session. After the reaction in the semi-final of the FA Cup, he's still not perfect," said the Spaniard.

He also said defender John Stones remains injured and that goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who suffered a calf injury during his side's league game against United, is out for the season.

Palace manager Sam Allardyce admitted his side's heavy schedule caught up with them when they lost 2-0 at home to Burnley last weekend, leaving them on 38 points. They are 16th, six points above the drop zone with three matches left.

Allardyce believes his side will avoid getting drawn back into the bottom three, although he has conceded the Eagles need one more win to erase all relegation fears.

"We can't afford to make the same sort of mistakes we did against Burnley," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Gabriel needed to kickstart Man City'. Print Edition | Subscribe