Crystal Palace-Leicester City Preview
Two of the Premier League's early surprise packages are set to do battle Saturday when Crystal Palace travels to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City.
Both clubs enter Saturday's clash rather pleased with their position in the league table as the campaign moves toward November. Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace (5-0-4) are in sixth place with 15 points, while Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City (4-4-1) are one point better than the Eagles and in fifth.
Leicester City aims to extend their unbeaten streak in league play to a modest three matches following a 2-2 draw at Southampton in which the Foxes erased a two-goal second-half deficit on goals from England international Jamie Vardy in the 66th and 90th minutes.
The Foxes have played a particularly swashbuckling brand of football this season - they've claimed a league-leading seven of their 16 points after trailing and have scored in every match this season while also failing to record a clean sheet thus far.
Scoring in every match is fantastic as long as the defence can hold up its end of the bargain, and unfortunately for Leicester City, that hasn't always been the case. The Foxes have conceded more than one goal in five of their nine fixtures, the worst coming in a 5-2 thumping at the hands of Arsenal on Sept. 26.
But that loss also represents an opportunity for the Foxes to improve in a crucial area - Leicester have conceded a league-worst 10 goals in their four home matches. The club will need to lean on Vardy, who leads the top flight with nine goals, again Saturday if they want to stop the rot to their home form.
Vardy's impact will be doubly important as the club will be without forward Leandro Ulloa, who picked up a knock in training.
"Ulloa is not ready yet," Ranieri said. "I don't want to risk him, for the next match in the cup, maybe he should be able 1/8to play 3/8. The others are okay."
Crystal Palace are aiming to regain their form after a 3-1 loss to West Ham United in which Carl Jenkinson's opener was cancelled out by a Yohan Cabaye penalty in the 25th minute. The Hammers pulled away with goals from Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet in the final two minutes.
A good start is crucial for Palace if Pardew's men are to take anything away from the east Midlands on Saturday. Palace, enjoying their best Premier League start in club history, have scored first in all five of their victories this season. They had never taken more than 11 points from the first nine games in a top-flight season.
The Eagles have also been excellent on their travels in 2015, winning nine of their 15 matches during the calendar year. Only Arsenal (10) have more wins on their travels in the calendar year.
Given both team's propensity for direct play and attacking prowess, Pardew is expecting a high-scoring affair.
"They've only been beaten once this season and that was against Arsenal, that is a tremendous record and they'll be looking to keep that going," Pardew said. "We'll be making sure that we try and throw as much offensive action at them as we can, and 17 goals 1/8conceded 3/8 suggests there is a weakness there. We need to exploit that if we can. The chances of this game finishing 0-0 are zero. If you're going to Leicester, you should see some goals."
Palace did the double over Leicester last season, including a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium in February. The Eagles won 2-0 at Selhurst Park in September.