Leicester City are aiming to put an end to their post-lockdown misery when they host Crystal Palace at King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Leicester City were heading into the lockdown as one of Premier League’s best performing teams, with their tally only bettered by Manchester City and new Premier League champions Liverpool. But, they are winless since the restart, failing to win any of their four games so far.
And on Saturday, the Foxes will be desperate to break their duck when they host Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium. It is a must-win game for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who are running the risk of being overtaken by Chelsea while the in-form Manchester United are also making a strong case for the Champions League places.
Things are completely different for Crystal Palace, however. The Eagles are dawdling at the wrong end of the league table with just 42 points on the board. They are also winless in their last two matches, one of which ended in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool.
That being said, Palace will still be eying all-three points which could potentially help move into the first half of the league table. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will be taking a look at both the sides in this crucial Premier League fixture on Saturday.
Tactics & Team News
Rodgers confirmed in the club’s team update that James Maddison is a doubt heading into this game. The Leicester City remains hopeful that the English international can feature against Crystal Palace tomorrow, meaning we could potentially see Harvey Barnes returning to the bench.
Indeed, Maddison could operate in the number the role, with the offensive duo of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho spearheading the Leicester City attack.
In midfield, things are likely to remain the same, although Dennis Praet could operate in a deeper role due to the potential return of Maddison. The Belgian is set to operate alongside Youri Tielemans, with Wilfred Ndidi playing in a deeper number six role.
Rodgers is hit by a few notable absences in the defensive department including Ricardo Pereira. The Portuguese international has been ruled out for the rest of the season, meaning James Justin is once again set to continue at right-back while Ben Chilwell is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.
Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans are absolute no-brainers in central defence, with Kasper Schmeichel also set to retain his place in between the sticks for Leicester City this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi, Praet, Tielemans; Maddison; Iheanacho, Vardy.
Much like Rodgers, Crystal Palace boss, Roy Hodgson does have a few injury concerns, mainly in defence, with Martin Kelly and James Tomkins out injured. But that is unlikely to make a huge difference as the back-four combination of Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Gary Cahill and Patrick van Aanholt have been first-team regulars for the Eagles this season.
These four individuals usually defend in deep-blocks, although the left-back van Aanholt does have permission to forward and provide offensive support. Given the nature of the tie, however, the Dutchman is set to operate in a deeper role this weekend.
Crystal Palace also have a tried and tested combination in midfield. Club captain Luka Milivojevic, operating in the number six role, is arguably the most essential figure in the system. The Serb is gifted with immense technical qualities while he can also read the game quite well.
Milivojevic receives additional support from two hard-working and physically astute midfielders in Cheikhou Kouyate and James McArthur.
Moving forward, the wide attacking combination of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend are Palace’s main source of creativity and inspiration while the attack itself is set to be spearheaded by top-scorer Jordan Ayew.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Dann, Cahill, van Aanholt; Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur; Townsend, Ayew, Zaha.
- Leicester have earned just seven points from their past eight league matches (W1, D4, L3), with only the current bottom four of Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford faring worse over the same period.
- Twelve of Leicester’s 16 league wins have come against sides currently in the bottom half of the table.
- Crystal Palace have lost consecutive games without scoring, having previously managed four straight wins without conceding.
- Since the restart, Leicester have scored twice from 41 goal attempts – a conversion rate of just 4.9%. They had the second-highest conversion rate of 14.3% prior to lockdown.
- Crystal Palace have won on their past two visits to the King Power Stadium, scoring seven goals in the process.
Player to Watch
With Leicester City struggling to find the right balance since the lockdown, it could be an excellent opportunity for Crystal Palace to cause an upset against one of Premier League’s best performing teams this season. And that’s where the influence of Zaha could come in handy.
The Ivorian already has a remarkable record against the Foxes, scoring five goals and provided four assists versus Leicester, his highest goal involvement against a particular opponent. Although the winger is yet to score a single goal since mid-December, this could be an excellent opportunity for him to showcase his talents.
At the same time, it will be equally important for Leicester City defenders to mark Zaha tightly if the Foxes are to minimise Palace’s attacking influence this weekend.
Leicester City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace could be an ideal opponent for Leicester City as they look to put to an end to their dismal run of form. Although the Eagles do pack a lot of punch on the counter, they don’t necessarily have the quality to cause problems for Rodgers’ men this weekend. It is going to a tightly contested fixture, however, which is why we only expect a narrow 1-0 win for the home side.