Last Christmas, a Scrooge-like rear-guard action from Crystal Palace almost made it an unhappy Christmas for the eventual Barclays Premier League champions.
This year, the champions may well be without Dzeko and Sergio Aguero but French defender Eliaquim Mangala believes that last weekend’s victory over Leicester proved that City can find a way to win in adversity.
Mangala told mcfc.co.uk: “It will be once again an important game for us.
“It’s a game we want to win and that we have to win.
“We are in a good moment and the team is confident. We are without our strikers but we proved last weekend that we can win 1-0 when we were playing away.
“We now need to be more knitted together and to be more watchful defensively because they will probably try to play a maximum on counter-attacks but we have the players to make the difference.
“I am confident and think the team can win those three points on Saturday.”
Saturday’s visitors lie in 16th place coming into this last Premier League game before Christmas and are chasing a first win in five.
Neil Warnock’s side are without a win in a league month but Mangala is of the opinion that Palace will be dangerous on the counter.
“Everything is possible in Premier League,” Eliaquim declared.
“Everybody knows in Premier League you can win against the leaders and lose against the bottom team at home and away but at the Etihad Stadium we play in front of our fans so the game is ours.
“Normally, teams that are coming here play more defensively.
“I think it will be the case and they will play in counter-attacks but we know that and it’s up to us to adapt, dominate the game and score the goal we need to win that game. We will do everything we can to get those three points this weekend.”
City are on their best run of the 2014/15 season.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won their last seven games and have only conceded once in their last five.
Mangala points to this defensive solidity as a key factor in the recent run of form and has rallied his teammates to keep it up for the next five games which will be played in the space of the next two weeks.
“We need to keep a good run, to be regular and have this winning mentality,” Eliaquim said.
“Our target is to be champions. We are nearly half way through the season. We need to keep going and continue the good and positive run we have at the moment. We need to take the maximum of points and it all start Saturday with Crystal Palace.
“We need to continue to defend the way we do at the moment. It’s key for Saturday’s game.
“We have a few problems with our strikers at the moment so we know it might be a bit more complicated.
“We know that we will maybe not score as many goals as we are used to, so we need to be more solid in defence like last weekend.”
City v Crystal Palace
It’s City’s last game at the Etihad Stadium before Christmas and you can be here to find out if the champions can keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders, Chelsea.
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against Crystal Palace online at www.mcfc.co.uk/tickets, by telephone on +44 161 444 1894 (option 1, option 1, option 2)* and to personal callers at the Ticket Office above the City Store at the Etihad Stadium.
Book now to avoid disappointment!