Monday 3pm: Crystal Palace v Leicester
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It’s my favourite time of year – those squares on the calendar that fall between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve where nobody has the slightest clue what day it is and are guided solely by the football schedule.
Well folks, there’s three games on a Monday and that’s as good a reason to celebrate as any this festive season isn’t it? It became quite clear on Boxing Day that Palace went a bit heavy on the selection boxes and got run over by a Villa unit that spent half of the game with ten men.
You cannot bottle inconsistency, but if you could it be branded as Eau de Crystal Palace. Good luck marketing that one if Roy Hodgson is a brand ambassador, mind you. Meanwhile, Leicester found themselves rather deserving a point against Manchester United, and the manner in which it landed makes it feel like an even better result than it was.
Perhaps Brendan Rodgers was right when he alluded to Man United being back to something resembling their expected levels of performances. If that’s true, the formlines don’t read for a promising Christmas hangover for Palace, do they?
Here’s three of the best wagers ahead of this potential mismatch.
It’s hard to see where Palace can cause Leicester problems when Wilf Ndidi isn’t suspended for the game. More often than not, teams over-commit against Palace but the biggest compliment anyone can pay to Brendan Rodgers is that he’s developed a style of counter-attacking that somehow manages to still be rather defensive, even in transition.
Ndidi will sit and Youri Tielemens will only journey forward if Maddison is in the box. And if they’re in the box, it means that the opposition can’t commit another midfielder forward. It seems rather simple, but this trick should see Leicester be relatively bombproof against this Palace side clearly struggling to keep up with even the most middling of Premier League sides right now.
In the four games against Palace prior to Rodgers taking over the Foxes, Leicester slumped to a 13-1 aggregate defeat. Since his hire, they’ve won back-to-back games without conceding a goal. Trust the process.
We’ve certainly seen regression in his performance levels; the ones that made people think he’d be getting into Man United’s midfield ahead of *checks notes* Scott McTominay and Fred – but in recent weeks, he’s looked back something resembling his best form.
Maddison may not be the typical playmaking midfielder in terms of his on-the-ball vision, but his technique when he’s given a yard of space is as good as anyone in the league. And, who gives up more space to players on the edge of the box than Palace? Absolutely nobody, that’s who.
Leicester haven’t scored just a single goal in a game since a November 8th win over Wolves. I’m not saying they don’t occasionally blank, but my point is that they’re relentless and the danger of some teams playing away to Palace is that the pitch is so small that it becomes easy to just sit in and protect what you have. We don’t have that problem here.
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