Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal of the game as a lacklustre Palace side fell deeper into a worrying predicament to further increase the pressure on Alan Pardew to turn the club’s fortunes around.
The Eagles had several chances to score, particularly through Damien Delaney who hit the crossbar in the dying seconds, but Leicester’s quality and confidence was evident as they strolled to a relatively easy victory.
Pardew fielded the same team for the third successive game – a 4-4-2 variation – but it did not quite work to the same effects that Reading encountered during the FA Cup quarter final just eight days before.
Individual defensive errors cost Palace
Wayne Hennessey – 6: Made an excellent save to deny Mahrez when the Algerian burst through on goal, and thwarted Jamie Vardy on two occasions. Not the most vocal goalkeeper but undoubtedly Palace’s number one.
Joel Ward – 5: Had some shaky moments against the intelligence of Marc Albrighton and was partly at fault for the only goal of the game. Ward followed Vardy’s initial run over to the left-hand side of the penalty area and could not retreat quickly enough to close down Vardy’s eventual cross, meaning Scott Dann was forced out wide and Mahrez subsequently squeezed the ball under Hennessey from close-range. Enjoyed a better second half and his crossing was dangerous, yet to little effect.
Scott Dann – 6: Palace’s best defender by quite a distance and dealt with the threat of Vardy very well, limiting the England forward to very minimal chances. Could possibly have done better to stop Vardy’s cross for the goal – despite being forced out of position – but his distribution from the back was top class.
Damien Delaney – 5: The Irishman’s long, often aimless diagonal punts belong in the lower regions of the football league. Delaney has had to be performing at his very best to meet the demands of the Premier League in recent years and sadly, it seems he just does not have the mentality or quality to do so anymore. Was unlucky to see his effort hit the top of the crossbar in added-time but should be replaced in the summer if the Eagles retain their top-flight status.
Pape Souare – 5: The Senegal international’s form has taken a worrying dip since Christmas – almost epitomising his team’s predicament during their barren run. Souare struggled against Mahrez and a slight limp towards the end of the first half was enough of an excuse for Pardew to withdraw his left-back from the game at half-time, replacing him with Martin Kelly.
Cabaye the only highlight in poor midfield display
Wilfried Zaha – 5: Epitomised Palace’s performance throughout the game: frustrating. Lost the ball too many times in promising positions and missed a relatively simple chance when he lashed a volley well wide at the back post following Yannick Bolasie’s cross. Foxes left-back Christian Fuchs had a relatively simple task in keeping the academy graduate quiet and Pardew ultimately decided to switch Zaha to the other side, but to no avail.
Mile Jedinak – 4: Similarly to Delaney, Jedinak is another member of the squad that won promotion in 2013 whose qualities seem to be deteriorating at a fairly rapid speed. Was left out of the side for much of the start of Pardew’s tenure for the simple reason that he looks uncomfortable in possession, however, due to James McArthur’s injury, Jedinak has been drafted back into the side and this weakness has never been more apparent. Will do well to remain at the club beyond the summer.
Yohan Cabaye – 7: Easily Palace’s best player on the day. The Frenchman was the only midfielder who seemed happy to receive the ball in the defensive half and ignited many attacks. His intelligence is many levels above any of the current Palace midfielders and fans fear he could seek an exit in the summer, especially if Pardew leaves and big clubs come calling.
Joe Ledley – 5: A poor display from the Welshman but he is not helped by Pardew sacrificing him by playing him on the left side of midfield to allow Bolasie to play as a striker – which, in turn, did not work out either. Almost every pass from Ledley went backwards to either Dann or Delaney and was eventually replaced by Dwight Gayle as Palace searched for an equaliser.
Adebayor and Bolasie fail to form striking partnership
Emmanuel Adebayor – 3: Where to start? Adebayor was abundantly poor. Failed to move within a five-yard radius of either Leicester centre back and was rightly hauled off at half-time for the second time since his arrival in January. Even more bewildering was Pardew’s use of the “He’s just not that type of player” excuse, referring to the fact that he remained rooted to the same patch of turf throughout the entirety of the first-half. Overly lazy player.
Yannick Bolasie – 5: Bolasie was deployed centrally once again and it is becoming mystifying as to why. Danny Simpson is an obvious weak link in Leicester’s side and having him exposed to Bolasie would have made perfect sense, particularly as Mahrez tends not to track back on all occasions. Instead, Ledley played on the left and Bolasie was tasked with attempting to win headers against Wes Morgan and Robert Huth from Delaney’s long, diagonal passes.
Half-time substitutes make a slight impact
Martin Kelly – 6: Replaced Souare at half-time and had a promising second half at left-back. Handled the threat of Mahrez much better than his team mate did in the first half and advanced forward on a few occasions to decent effect.
Bakary Sako – 6: Another feature of the double half-time substitution, replacing the lackadaisical Adebayor as Palace reverted to a 4-5-1 formation. Produced two superb crosses which would have resulted in goals had a natural striker been on the pitch, but instead, makeshift centre forward Bolasie was expecting a pass on the edge of the box. A brief reminiscence of his early season form.
Dwight Gayle – N/A: Gayle replaced Ledley with just over ten minutes remaining but failed to make an impact as Palace struggled in the final third.