By Jack Gaughan for MailOnline
Published: 17:59 GMT, 18 January 2020 | Updated: 18:53 GMT, 18 January 2020
There was a certain amount of poetry that television cameras caught Aymeric Laporte sat up in the Etihad’s posh seats nibbling on croquettes just as Manchester City were defensively fried. The clip came moments before they gifted Cenk Tosun his first Crystal Palace goal.
Laporte has told friends that he hopes to make a long-awaited return from a knee injury next week against Fulham in the FA Cup and for Pep Guardiola that cannot come soon enough.
City are conceding considerably more than one goal a game in the absence of their best defender. They might appear solid for long spells but silly mistakes have riddled this second title defence.
Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte (above) at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon
That was no different here. John Stones ended the afternoon scolded by constant criticism from his manager, while partner Fernandinho scored a late own goal.
It is likely that Laporte will be eased back in by Guardiola with a view to the 25-year-old reaching peak match fitness in the build-up to next month’s Champions League date with Real Madrid.
The re-emergence of him should automatically improve City regardless because, truth be told, those wearing the shirt at the moment cannot retain solidity for a full 90 minutes.
Laporte nibbling on croquettes even though he later admitted he didn't know what they were
That was certainly the case on Saturday,