Leicester City vs Crystal Palace Preview: Hosts hoping for win after poor start to the season

Leicester City vs Crystal Palace Preview: Hosts hoping for win after poor start to the season

The holding champions appeared poorly motivated in their defeat to Chelsea last weekend and the visit of Crystal Palace could also prove to be a difficult test

Sam Smith

Leicester City host Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon with both sides looking to bounce back from disappointing defeats last weekend.

The current champions were trounced 3-0 by Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off and have so far looked a shadow of the side that sensationally won the league last season.

The Eagles were beaten by West Ham United at Selhurst Park, a 1-0 defeat which halted a five-game unbeaten run. Club-record signing Christian Benteke blazed a penalty high and wide on what was a below-average performance from the striker, although boss Alan Pardew has backed him to improve at the King Power Stadium.

Are lacklustre Leicester suffering from a lack of motivation in the Premier League?

Claudio Ranieri’s side looked disinterested as Chelsea strolled past them last week. Each goal, despite being well-worked by the hosts, had an clear sense of good fortune and one would have expected a usually solid Foxes back four not to have conceded.

In fairness, the Italian did field a slightly weaker side. The Champions League tie against Kobenhavn – a game they eventually won – was certainly in mind. However, the eleven that took to the field against the Blues was not too dissimilar to the one that was almost ever-present as they stormed to a magical top-flight success.

An obvious hole in the Leicester team was very much shaped in the form of N'Golo Kante. Instead, the energetic, now-Chelsea midfielder was the best player on the pitch against his former side and almost opened his account for the Blues had it not been for Wes Morgan’s excellent goal-line block. In Kante’s place stood Nampalys Mendy; a good player in his own right, but now quite Kante.

As each minute passed at Stamford Bridge, it became clear that Leicester’s minds were very much on their big upcoming Champions League tie. The most dangerous thing that could happen to the Foxes is that they begin to question the point in competing in the top-flight when they have already won it and focus solely on Europe’s elite.

Resurgent Palace hoping to punish Foxes

Pardew’s side certainly have the requisite tools to beat Leicester. The Eagles almost came away with draws in both games last season and, despite losing 1-0 home and away respectively, they were both much weaker teams than the one that will be fielded by Pardew at the King Power Stadium.

Despite his forgettable penalty last weekend, Benteke has been in great form for his new side. The Belgian looks revitalised thanks to the trust and excellent man-management of Pardew and already has three goals this season.

The Eagles’ best chance of winning the game comes through the counter-attacking style that has worked so successfully for the South Londoners since their promotion in 2013. Although Pardew insisted his side have tried to change the style of play in recent months. The Palace boss hinted at wanting his side to control games, although this will not be easy against a powerful Leicester side.

Christian Benteke will hope to make amends for his penalty disaster last weekend | Photo: Getty images / Dan Mullan
Christian Benteke will hope to make amends for his penalty disaster last weekend | Photo: Getty images / Dan Mullan

Head to head

The hosts won this fixture twice last season, both 1-0 victories with key players Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez scoring the only goals in each game. The Foxes' October victory at the King Power Stadium put an end to Palace’s four-game unbeaten run against Saturday’s opponents, with Leicester’s last victory coming in 2012 when both sides were in the Championship – times which seem a whole world away right now.

Overall, Leicester have a slight head-to-head advantage, winning 25 of the 65 meetings – with Palace winning 23. Leicester won the very first meeting 2-0 on 1 April 1922, before Palace earned revenge seven days later, winning 1-0.

Team news

The hosts will be without Mendy and Matty James, who are both out until early November. Pardew has no new injury worries but is still without long-term absentees Loic Remy, Jonathan Benteke and Pape Souare. It is expected that Martin Kelly will keep his place at left-back, despite being replaced at half-time by Zeki Fryers following a poor performance against West Ham. Scott Dann is only fit enough to make the bench which means Damien Delaney and James Tomkins will continue in central defence.

Predicted Leicester City team: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, King, Musa; Vardy, Slimani.

Predicted Crystal Palace team: Mandanda; Ward, Tomkins, Delaney, Kelly; Cabaye, McArthur, Puncheon; Zaha, Benteke, Townsend.