Coming Up – Crystal Palace

Saturday July 4th 3pm Kick Off – Sky Pick (Freeview Channel 11)

Preview by Chris Griffin

After some uncertainty following the reintroduced lockdown in Leicester, City’s home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday was confirmed.

Palace have had a mixed return after the restart. They took three points in a smart 2-0 win at Bournemouth but were hardly at the races last week when they visited a vibrant Liverpool and lost 4-0. On Monday this week they slipped up at home to Burnley, losing 1-0 to a Ben Mee goal.

Nevertheless, Palace are a team with recognisable and reliable qualities. They sit comfortably in mid-table with eleven wins and nine draws. They may only have scored 28 goals but they make opponents work very hard to take anything from a match.

As would be expected from a side coached by Roy Hodgson Palace are tactically tight and consistent. They pack the middle third of the pitch and press opponents hard to close down opportunities. Kouyate and McArthur provide a strong midfield holding duo. They have experienced centre backs in Cahill and Dann. Van Aanholt is particularly effective pushing forward from left back. Milivojevic is an accomplished dead ball specialist. And in Zaha and Townsend they have players who provide very special moments. Ayew can be very sharp in the box.

It was early November when City travelled to Selhurst Park for this season’s away game at Palace. So impressive were City that day it now seems to belong to a different age given our recent performances. Soyuncu and Vardy scored. Tielemans and Maddison were excellent in midfield constantly looking for the penetrating forward ball. City showed pace and played at a fast tempo while looking like a side for whom anything might be possible.

After the match Jamie Vardy commented “The creativity and attacking talent we have is incredible.” Few would have disputed that assessment on that November afternoon. But today fans wondering and asking where that creativity and attacking talent have gone.

City have been struggling. The games against Watford and Brighton were grim affairs. Overall City looked to be treading water. Manchester United’s easy disposal of Brighton this week shone a light on how ineffective we were against Albion.  Against Chelsea Brendan Rodgers put out the team who gave us so much return in the autumn (with the exception of the injured Maddison and Ricardo.) The side had a bright opening twenty minutes but the cohesion and precision which led to so many goals in the autumn were missing. Confidence drained and Chelsea fought back. City gave it a go in the last ten minutes but composure at the vital moment was missing.

And so to Everton. Here surely was an opportunity to find our feet and put ourselves back on track. But no. Everton strolled into a two goal lead in the first 15 minutes. The first half drinks break gave Rodgers the chance to reset his team’s mentality and there was some improvement. Near the end Sigurdsson blocked what looked to be a goal bound Perez effort, but in all honesty, for much of the last 15 minutes we lacked any idea of how to break through Everton’s well-drilled midfield shield. This won’t do against Palace whose defensive shield will be equally strong.

12 premier league matches in 2020 and 13 points: bottom six form. Gratitude to West Ham for preventing Chelsea gain any points but we cannot rely on others slipping up to retain a Champions League spot. With some challenging fixtures in the run in we need points urgently. Saturday would be a good place to start.

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation