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Pardew: City are world-class

HUDDLE: The team celebrate Aguero's goal

HUDDLE: The team celebrate Aguero's goal

The day has finally arrived… City are back in action.

Following a (seemingly eternal!) international break, the Blues face Crystal Palace this afternoon, seeking a return to winning ways following the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

Naturally, the encounter dominates the morning’s headlines, so let’s see what’s being said…

Palace manager Alan Pardew has heaped praise – or pressure – on City, insisting they are strong contenders for the Premier League crown.

"They are a team who can win the title,” he stated in his press conference. “They have a world class manager and world class players and that always helps.

“I would think they would like to put their recent run behind them and get back to winning ways on a consistent level.

"Their performance against Barcelona was certainly one of the highlights of the season so they reach heights that few teams can reach.

"The game against Spurs was certainly a shock for them - the home side were terrific on the day - but we have watched most of their games and that was out of the ordinary for them.

“Without doubt, they have the ability to win the league but hopefully we will put a dent in it."

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Midfielder Jason Puncheon insists his side have nothing to fear, and is eager to see how Pep Guardiola finds his first Selhurst Park experience.

Quoted on London News Online, he declared: “It’s all new for Pep coming to Selhurst Park - I know that much! He’s not going to be ready for that. We’ll wait to see.

“Everyone has got their own way of playing. You’ve got to settle in your beliefs - but this is the Premier League. It’s excruciating and dangerous in many different types of ways.

“We’re looking forward to this match and bringing our A-game.

“All the games are tough. People always say ‘this team are this and that team are that’ but we know that both away from home and at Selhurst Park, we can beat top sides.

“We haven’t got anything to worry about. We’re in a good place and we need to go out and do what we need to do.”

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In other news, there’s a snippet of transfer gossip as Caught Offside believe Guardiola is lining up a move for Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo.

According to Ron Carne: “With two goals and four assists in 13 appearances so far this season since making the move to Portugal this past summer, the talented full back has proven his quality and that in turn may come back to haunt Barca over their decision to let him go.

“Nevertheless, their loss could turn out to be Guardiola’s gain as there is certainly enough to suggest that the Benfica ace would fit in instantly with the City boss’s philosophy and system given their background with the Catalan giants.

“It was claimed earlier this week by O Jogo that it would take a bid of £38.5m to prise him away from Benfica, despite the fact that he has a £51m release clause in his contract.

“However, it’s added by The Sun that City are not willing to meet those demands, and so in turn Guardiola may well be forced to look elsewhere if Benfica are unwilling to negotiate and consider offers.”

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