Leicester City will be looking to get back to winning ways after an inconsistent start to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign when they take on Crystal Palace on Sunday.
After consecutive fifth-place finishes in the Premier League, as well as last season’s spectacular FA Cup triumph, there’s a growing concern among Leicester City faithful that any hopes of glory in the new season could be coming to an end with Brendan Rodgers & co. unable to find any kind of rhythm or consistency.
The Foxes have only won two of their six top-flight games so far this season, most recently succumbing to defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion before drawing 2-2 with relegation-threatened Burnley. Rodgers’ men also lost 1-0 against Polish outfit Legia Warsaw in their midweek Europa League group stage tie, only two weeks after blowing a two-goal advantage at home against Napoli.
They are 13th in the Premier League standings with seven points from six games resembling more like a mid-table side than European spots contender. A victory this weekend is critical to provide confidence ahead of the upcoming international break.
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira has been tasked with leading a massive rebuilding project at Selhurst Park. The club hierarchy has decided to invest in more talents with potential than experienced heads. And the change has brought mixed results so far this season. The Eagles are undefeated at home under Patrick Vieira, having beaten Tottenham 3-0 at Selhurst Park in between draws with Brighton and Brentford.
The stalemate against Brighton would particularly hurt after falling to a 95th-minute equalising strike from Neal Maupay. The Eagles currently sit 15th in the league table, taking six points from their opening six Premier League matches. Vieira’s first management job in English football has been a bit of a mixed bag, but the result of Sunday’s game may completely change the tone.
Team News & Tactics
Eagles boss Patrick Vieira has no new injury worries coming into the game, with Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson being Crystal Palace’s only confirmed absentees out with long-term Achilles injuries, giving Vieira the opportunity to make a few tactical tweaks against Leicester if he desires to do so.
Intense drills 💨
Classy goals 👌
Ebs on the camera 📸
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) October 2, 2021
Vieira still has not found his preferred XI but favours a 4-3-3 setup; the French tactician will likely keep the same lineup from last weekend’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Vicente Guaita is almost guaranteed to start in goal. He will be protected by Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi’s developing centre-back pairing with veteran Joel Ward and Eagles academy product Tyrick Mitchell taking up the full-back duties. Both will be pinned back a lot as they come up against Leicester’s Ademola Lookman and Harvey Barnes.
The holding midfield duo of James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic is anticipated to do the gritty work in the engine room in order for Conor Gallagher to have the freedom to play further forward, behind the central striker. The Chelsea loanee is proving his worth in the top-flight and has become a regular starter for Crystal Palace.
Wilfried Zaha is likely to move out wide on the left to cause Leicester’s defensive line all sorts of problems, with Jordan Ayew taking his position on the right side. Odsonne Edouard, who was heavily linked with a transfer move to Leicester City in the summer, may start up top, making only his second Premier League start.
Probable Lineup(4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Anderson, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, McArthur; Ayew, Zaha, Edouard
Unlike his counterpart, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers might have to contend with several new injury issues with Wilfred Ndidi a major doubt due to a hamstring injury, while Jonny Evans is also doubtful with illness. James Justin and Wesley Fofana remain sidelined with long-term injuries.
After succumbing to a dismal Europa League defeat the midweek, Rodgers may revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation he played against Burnley. Kasper Schmeichel has been criticised for his poor distribution in recent games, but his shot-stopping ability makes him indispensable between the sticks.
With Evans unavailable, the backline will consist of the Caglar Soyuncu – Jannik Vestergaard partnership and flanking them would be the high pushing full-backs, Ryan Bertrand and Ricardo Pereira. In Ndidi’s absence, Boubakary Soumare could keep his place in the double pivot but might have to play a deeper role alongside Youri Tielemans.
Harvey Barnes is set to return on the left-wing, while Ademola Lookman, who has been sparkling since arriving at King Power, should start on the right. Kelechi Iheanacho could finally be handed his first Premier League start of the season following his excellent showings off the bench. The Nigerian missed the midweek’s game owing to travel admin issues. He would slot in the hole just behind the lightning-quick Jamie Vardy.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Vestergaard, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Tielemans, Soumare; Lookman, Iheanacho, Barnes; Vardy
- Crystal Palace have only lost one of their last five home league games against Leicester City but are winless in their last four games against the Foxes. The last victory came back in 2019, winning 2-0 away from home.
- Crystal Palace remain undefeated at home in the Premier League this campaign (W1 D2) and have only surrendered one goal at Selhurst Park.
- Leicester have been unable to preserve a clean sheet in their past ten away top-flight games, but on a positive note, they have scored at least one goal in all of them.
- Wilfried Zaha boasts an excellent track record versus Leicester City, with six goals and two assists in 12 games.
- With five goals and one assist in the bag, Jamie Vardy remains Leicester’s most potent threat up top.
Player to Watch
After a string of poor display’s from James Maddison, Iheanacho can finally dislodge the Englishman from the starting XI. Despite his great form since March and his exploits after coming from the bench this season, tt’s baffling that the Nigerian has been unable to make his way into Brendan Rodgers’ plans as a starter.
Despite being given limited minutes, majorly bench-roles, he has scored two goals while assisted another two. His hold-up play provides Foxes more of an outlet and adds dynamism to their style of play. His ball control and ability to get out of closed areas creates spaces for Vardy and other forwards to pounce upon. Most importantly, he can form a fruitful partnership and score quality goals with Vardy upfront.
Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace
This would be another tight contest with both sides eager to get a result. Unlike Palace, who have had almost a week off between the two league fixtures, Leicester are coming on the back of a trip to the Polish capital on Thursday. Despite Rodgers making wholesale changes, one can expect it to impact their performance this weekend.
The Eagles looked very good offensively against Brighton with Zaha and Gallagher causing havoc but were unable to convert their chances in key moments. Leicester will rely on their hitman Vardy and Iheanacho to drag them out of this poor run of form while Palace striker Odsonne Edouard, despite his strong start, is still settling to the rigours of the Premier League.
Hence, The Hard tackle predicts a narrow 2-1 victory for the Foxes away from home this weekend in what would be a crucial result for Brendan Rodgers & co. to get their campaign back on track.