Leicester will be looking to improve their domestic form when they take on Crystal Palace this Saturday.
Leicester City’s European success will have come as a helpful tonic to their somewhat beleaguered supporters. I’m certain that their supporters were fairly pragmatic in their expectations following last season’s heroics, but to be in 13th place on the table. With arguably a stronger squad - minus one N 'Golo Kante. Ranieri will be earmarking this as a must win while Palace look to recover from a sound defeat at the hands of West Ham. While it was only 1-0 on the scoresheet, Palace were rather resoundingly outplayed. But they are developing a consistent blueprint to their game that is centered on the prolific goal-scoring exploits of Benteke.
Leicester v Crystal Palace | Saturday 22 October | The King Power Stadium | 16:00
To Win Outright
Leicester 21/20 | Draw 47/20 | Palace 26/10
Leicester City will look to play their strongest possible side this week after they almost certainly cemented their qualification for the next round of the Champions League. Ahmed Musa has been somewhat disappointing since an explosion pre-season and will likely be on the bench.
The combination of Vardy and Slimani seems to me to be their best striking combination. Mahrez scored on Tuesday and will be looking to finally recapture that form that saw him voted the PFA Player of the year last season.
It just seems that sides have gotten wise to the Foxes. Why it took a year to occur will forever be a mystery to me. They play on the counterattack and feed off of errors. The absence of Kante accentuates this. Last season he led across Europe’s top leagues in interceptions, which were critical to implementing their game-plan.
Vardy is hacking at opportunities in much the same way he did last year: they just aren’t going in this season. Michael Owen caught a lot of flack last season for criticizing him as not being a natural finisher. Owen will be feeling fairly justified in this season’s evidence. This will not be an easy game for a Foxes side that desperately need a result.
After a startling run that turned their season around, it was perhaps expected that Palace ran out of gas last weekend. Having said that, Benteke took one of the worst penalty kicks I have ever seen and they could have easily got away with a point. This is the type of game that they are set up for. Playing on the break, the likes of Townsend and Zaha can rampage forward when Fuchs and Simpson advance. You feel that they will feel more confident against this duo than against Cresswell and Antonio - despite the fact that the former was subsequently sent off.
Christian Benteke provides the focal point of this Palace attack. His strength and surprising turn of speed will present Huth and Morgan with plenty of problems. But it really opens up into a broader critique of this Leicester side. They have been abysmal defending set-pieces this season. Truly. Morgan and Huth no longer win the first balls. United scored three of their four goals from set-plays while Diego Costa ghosted into the penalty box unmarked at the weekend. Palace provide a huge aerial threat that goes beyond Benteke. Tomkins and Delany will consistently threaten when they come forward and that may be the undoing of the Foxes.
Verdict: Double Chance Palace to Win or Draw 7/10
The danger that Pardew’s side present from set-plays should give them the edge in this game. I am showing some reservation because you can’t accuse this Leicester side of lacking heart. They may be able to pick up a point, but ultimately I see Palace getting a valuable result on the road that will undermine Leicester’s ambitions regardless.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets