Saturday, 3pm, Sky One/Sky Sports Premier League
What has happened Leicester since the return of football? Winless in four games, knocked out of the FA Cup and they are in real danger of the season petering out. Before we resumed action, the Foxes had a comfortable gap between themselves and the top-four chasers, but now this is down to just three points!
Jamie Vardy, who is the league’s joint-top goalscorer, hasn’t had a sniff and in general, their play has looked laboured and lacking creativity. James Maddison has not started the last two fixtures and leads the way in expected assists for the Foxes. Any medium-term injury to him will seriously derail their fluidity going forward.
Luckily for them, Brendan Rodgers came out before the Everton game saying he should be fit for the weekend having had the midweek to rest up. Yes, Yuri Tielemans, Dennis Praet and Harvey Barnes are all very functional players but they don’t have the same panache and incision with passes that Maddison provides. And that will be badly needed against a packed Palace set up come the weekend!
It’s no secret Woy the boy likes to pack his defence and midfield out away from home, and when you have the counter-attacking threat of Wilfried Zaha who can blame him? That’s evident in their total points earned away which is 20. This figure puts them in the top nine in that table which is a fair achievement. They have the 7th best defensive record also which has them above Spurs and Arsenal.
With Leicester really struggling for some cut and thrust in the final third I think this will be a slow, methodical grind for the home side. Last year the Eagles put on a counter-attacking masterclass winning 4-1, I can see their approach being similar this time around.
However, the posts have been moved slightly as the Foxes have really stepped up a level and boast the Premier League’s joint-second best defence. Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans, flanked by solid and multi-functional full-backs, have been tough to crack this season. Leicester will dominate possession, so Palace will have to be fast if they are to break down Brendan Rodgers’ defensive set up.
Given the disparity in overall league standings and motivation levels, I think it makes sense to side with a home win, especially with Maddison’s expected return. The home side are understandably short as they average 1.88 scored at home and only 0.94 for goals conceded.
They have won nine of 16 home matches, losing just three, two of which came against Liverpool and Man City, with the other being a shock loss to Southampton. They rank third for most goals scored and yes, while it’s true this attack hasn’t been flourishing recently, I believe they will get the job done this Saturday.
Palace were very poor against a depleted Burnley on Monday night. They will try to defend deep but I can see the Foxes returning to form with a much-needed win. My best bets for the game are as follows.
Leicester to win & Under 3.5 goals looks a nice play to boost the price of the home win. This clicked earlier in the season when the Foxes won away.
Leicester have received seven penalties this season which is the third most in the league. They have scored 71% of them so should they’re on field positional superiority be as much as I expect, it could be a Vardy party!
The last bet I will suggest is the correct score of 2-0, this clicked in the earlier meeting. As I outlined earlier, goals could be at a premium early on until the Foxes eventually break the stern away team down.
Tips for Leicester vs Crystal Palace 15.00 on Saturday
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