Leicester City vs Crystal Palace
Venue: King Power Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football
Leicester City return to the King Power stadium this weekend after their extremely successful trip to manager, Claude Puel’s former club in Southampton, where they recorded a 4-1 victory, in impressive fashion to.
Their visitors are a club who also enjoyed success midweek, even if it did take two goals in the last few moments, Crystal Palace were successful victors against Watford and a club who since manager Roy Hodgson took over are in much better form.
Most notably for Leicester in recent games is the return of their whiz kid, Riyad Mahrez, who has found form similar to their successful premier league winning season campaign. Interesting, with City scoring 4 in midweek, absent from the scoresheet was Jamie Vardy and this will although be frustrating for the once Stocksbridge Park Steels striker, it will sure please Claude Puel and fans knowing that somebody else, other than the Englishman can put the ball in the back of the net.
Their counterparts are unbeaten in 6 games, picking up 10 points in the process. Unfortunately for Palace and fans, it should be 12 points but due to Benteke’s penalty miss last weekend against Bournemouth the South London side had to settle for the point.
Once again, Claude Puel has no major injury concerns to be concerned about with Matty James and Robert Huth being the main long-term injuries, yet the two absentees have returned to training but are a long way of match fitness. The only problem for the manager at this moment in time is to who to select in his starting XI for the trip of Crystal Palace, certainly not a bad position to be in especially considering the busy Christmas period upcoming.
It will certainly be a 4-4-1-1 formation chosen by the gaffer but who undertake these places will be the main interest. It seems Ben Chilwell has stapled his place within Puel’s starting XI but interestingly he decided to play the English youngster in midfielder in the trip to Southampton with veteran, Christian Fuchs, slotting in at his usual left back position. Marc Albrighton and Demari Gray both took places on the bench on the wings during the week with Riyad Mahrez and Chilwell undertaking these positions. With Gray slotting in at number 10 against Newcastle last weekend, it was Shinji Okazaki who tackled this position against Southampton. The Japanese international scored two and assisted one in his full 90-minutes against the Saints and it will be extremely hard for Puel to drop the energetic striker.
Palace will be without the suspended Luka Milivojevic as he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the successful 2-1 win over Watford. Hodgson’s current team have various injury concerns and in a time where the fixture list is extremely congested, this is not an ideal situation for the Eagles.
Mamadou Sakho, Lee Chung-yong, Damien Delaney and Connor Wichkham all remain sidelined. Timothy Fosu-Mensah was forced off against the Hornets after 70 minutes and is set to undergo a scan on his hamstring, he is extremely likely to miss the trip to Leicester. It is expected that Martin Kelly will fill in at right back with Tomkins, Dann and Schlupp remaining the others in the back line. The suspended Milivojvic will probably be replaced by James McArthur while Zaha and Benteke will expectedly make up the strike force.
If Wilfred Zaha can use his pace at the King Power and his quick trickery then he could cause the Leicester defenders some problems and for Puel and Leicester, he is certainly the danger man this Saturday lunchtime.
Scoreline: 3-0 – Leicester are a club in form and have impressively beat Burnley, Spurs and Southampton on the form which has found themselves second in the form table. Although Palace haven’t lost in six games I think Puel has got something going on at Leicester and has utilised his players to the best of his advantage. I think the Foxes will be too much for the Eagles this weekend.
Written by Eamon Kitching.