Crystal Palace vs Leicester City Preview: The Foxes look to march on

Leicester City visit Selhurst Park in the hope of securing another vital three points.

Crystal Palace vs Leicester City Preview: The Foxes look to march on
Jamie Vardy scored the only goal the last time the two sides met.Getty Images

After another narrow 1-0 victory less than a week ago, Claudio Ranieri takes his side to South London as Leicester City look to beat a struggling a Crystal Palace team.

As Tottenham Hotspur are continuing to put pressure on the Foxes' five-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League, it's vital that Leicester claim all three points against the league's most out-of-form team.

After a decent start to the season for Alan Pardew's men, it's all gone steeply downhill since the turn of 2016 with his side still looking for their first win of the calendar year. With nine games left, it seems that they might be slipping into the relegation battle, a sentence Palace fans wouldn't have expected to hear on New Year's Day.

With only two places and eight points separating them from the drop zone, they need to find some points and fast, which will be a tall order against the team that has occupied the top spot for more time than any other team this season.

International Call-ups

With the next round of international fixtures only around the corner, the squads of the sides involved were released around Thursday lunchtime. For the Foxes, it was nothing but great news as Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante earned their first call-ups for England and France respectively, two very well-deserved call-ups, whilst Jamie Vardy kept his place in the England set-up, which came as no surprise.

The trio (along with Riyad Mahrez) have probably been Leicester's most influential performers this season and all three have been great value for the call-ups.

N'Golo Kante has been key to Leicester this season | Photo: Getty
N'Golo Kante has been key to Leicester this season | Photo: Getty

The Foxes also have two youngsters who have been selected by the England under-21 side. Both players, Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray, are yet to play for England at under-21 level, however, both have played for England's under-20 team on a handful of occasions.

The Eagles don't have any England contingent in their team. However, along with N'Golo Kante, Palace's Yohan Cabaye has been called up as part of France's midfield. Since his return to England, the former-Newcastle man has been one of Crystal Palace's saving graces in a season which won't live long in the memories of the Eagles fans. The central midfielder has struck up a great partnership with Alan Pardew who he signed from Lille for Newcastle in 2011.

Cabaye has become very popular at Selhurst Park | Photo: Getty
Cabaye has become very popular at Selhurst Park | Photo: Getty

After a few great seasons on Tyneside, Cabaye made a big-money switch to Paris Saint Germain in the January of 2014. Although, the move didn't really work out, the Frenchman only made 39 appearances over the two seasons.

It was made clear that Cabaye wanted to leave the capital of his home country and Alan Pardew, who was now manager of Crystal Palace, expressed his interest and completed a move for the midfielder for around £13 million. The move showed great intent from Crystal Palace and their great start to the season backed up this intent until a disaster in the new year which may even threaten their Premier League status.

Different ends of the form table

Both managers are well-known in the managerial industry as well as being known for their managerial styles. Claudio Ranieri is perceived a calm, collected manager, loved since his return to England whereas Alan Pardew can seem a quite controversial and hot-headed manager.

In the reverse fixture between the two sides (a 1-0 win for Leicester), Alan Pardew allegedly suggested that the former Inter Milan man was "goading" his players when they were chasing the game at 1-0. He also said about how Ranieri didn't bother shaking hands with him, which the ex-Chelsea boss has since apologised for, claiming a mistake on his part. Pardew made it very clear that his shining thoughts of the Leicester manager had been well tarnished and that he felt his behaviour was unnecessary.

The game saw Ranieri's side register their first clean sheet of the season, which fulfilled the manager's promise of pizza for a clean sheet. Since then, Ranieri has seen his side keep another ten shutouts, a great turn around seeing as it took them ten games to register their first.

Palace, on the other hand, have only kept six clean sheets all season and have failed to win a game in their last twelve, losing eight and drawing four since their win away at Stoke on the 19th of December. The Londoners will be looking to end their poor run that has only seen them win FA Cup games since December, of which they've won all four of their ties.

The cup run may distract their attention away from their league campaign, however, with a very realistic chance of going all the way, it would be naive for the Eagles to throw away such a great chance of silverware.

Injury News

The only definite absentee for the Foxes is Matty James who has been injured since May after a nasty Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury that is taking a long time to fully recover. The midfielder should be back in action at the start of May at the latest.

Another doubt for Saturday's match is Welsh international, Andy King, who missed out on the 1-0 victory over Newcastle with a slight hamstring problem, he probably will return to the matchday squad for the clash against Palace.

There is a possibility of five players missing for Crystal Palace. However, Mile Jedinak, who scored in this fixture last season, is hopeful to return to the squad. The other absentees are Marouane Chamakh (groin), Connor Wickham (hip), James McArthur (ankle) and Kwesi Appiah (ACL). None of the players will return in time for the game and they may not even return until next month. At this point in the season, Alan Pardew needs as many players as he can choose from.

Predicted Line-Ups

Crystal Palace - McCarthy,  Ward,  Dann, Delaney,  Souare; Ledley, Mutch; Zaha,  Cabaye,  Bolasie;  Adebayor.

Leicester City - Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth,  Fuchs; Albrighton, Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Okazaki, Vardy.