Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Premier League clash between Leicester City and Crystal Palace, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Brendan Rodgers‘s side come into the game on the back of a 0-0 draw with PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final, while the Eagles thrashed Arsenal 3-0 last time out.
With any hopes of a top-seven finish seemingly dead in the water, the Conference League represents Leicester’s best shot at returning to Europe for the 2022-23 season, but they have it all to do in the Netherlands next week following a goalless stalemate with PSV on Wednesday night.
Neither that stalemate nor the recent one at Old Trafford were welcomed with open arms by the Leicester faithful, who saw three points turn to one after James Maddison‘s late winner was ruled out for a foul on Manchester United’s Raphael Varane, but taking a point home from the Theatre of Dreams is still no mean feat.
However, a top-half finish in the Premier League is all that Leicester realistically have left to fight for on the domestic front this term, as Rodgers’s side occupy 10th spot in the rankings with Aston Villa and Southampton both within touching distance.
Leicester do have two games in hand on their upcoming opponents, but the European fatigue is not letting up for the Foxes, who have won just one of their last five in all competitions and have next week’s trip to PSV in the back of their minds.
On a brighter note, Leicester have now strung together a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions at the King Power Stadium – winning four of their last five – but Palace are in no mood to let the momentum from Monday night take an immediate hit.
A dominant force in Arsenal’s midfield for several years, Patrick Vieira witnessed his Palace side dominate the Gunners in all areas of the field at Selhurst Park, and the Eagles deservedly claimed a 3-0 victory over their capital rivals in that London derby.
Seemingly winning every single duel with the lacklustre Gunners, Palace took a two-goal lead into half time through Jean-Philippe Mateta‘s close-range finish and Jordan Ayew‘s strike, while Wilfried Zaha made sure of the result from the penalty spot late on.
Teaching Arsenal a footballing lesson and holding Manchester City to a goalless draw were both ideal ways for Vieira to celebrate his induction into the Premier League’s Hall of Fame, and there is certainly a new wave of excitement surrounding the Frenchman’s young team after Monday’s showing.
The ninth-placed Eagles only sit above their upcoming hosts in the table on goal difference, but they have now gone seven games unbeaten in all tournaments and have kept clean sheets in each of their last four, while they are also yet to lose away from home since the turn of the year.
Leicester and Palace played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park back in October, and while that result means that the Eagles have now gone five games without a win against the Foxes, one would not put it past them to end that disappointing streak here.
Leicester City Premier League form:
Leicester City form (all competitions):
Crystal Palace Premier League form:
Crystal Palace form (all competitions):
Leicester boss Rodgers still has the injured quartet of Jamie Vardy, Ryan Bertrand, Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Ward missing for Sunday’s game, but Boubakary Soumare should be back in contention despite muscular soreness.
Caglar Soyuncu and Ayoze Perez were both missing from the draw with PSV due to illness, and while the former is expected to return to the squad, Perez is more of an uncertainty. Nampalys Mendy will be fine to feature, though.
The need for fresh legs amid the quick turnaround should see James Justin, Ademola Lookman and Patson Daka considered for starts on Sunday, and Mendy’s possible return could see Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall pushed further up the field or dropped entirely in favour of Lookman.
As for Palace, Zaha was fit enough to start and star in the win over Arsenal on Monday, but Nathan Ferguson has suffered a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.
The Palace boss affirmed at his pre-match press conference that Ferguson was the only player not in training, so that would suggest that Michael Olise has overcome the foot problem which forced him to miss out against the Gunners.
Whether the 20-year-old is ready to start remains to be seen, but Vieira will surely see no reason to fix what is not broken with his first XI this weekend.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Justin, Fofana, Soyuncu, Castagne; Mendy, Tielemans; Lookman, Maddison, Barnes; Daka
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, Schlupp; Ayew, Mateta, Zaha
We say: Leicester City 1-2 Crystal Palace
Leicester’s relatively solid streak of home form will serve to increase the confidence within the hosts’ ranks, but the quick turnaround and overall patchy period does not spell success against a Palace side who have found their stride under Vieira.
Defensively sound under the Frenchman for a few weeks now and with an extensive selection of attacking options ready to make the net ripple, we can only back a refreshed an in-form Eagles outfit to prevail once more.