Our Fan at the Game, Scott Davies brings you the view from the terraces as Leicester City beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at the King Power stadium….
Crystal Palace visited Leicester after almost a month of football away from King Power stadium, which saw several Rugby World Cup matches take place in our absence. Any fears the pitch would suffer from these fixtures were well and truly quashed as the pitch was in pristine condition.
Palace have travelled in good form with 9 wins in their last 12 away fixtures, however have lost 4 of their last 6 games. The spoils are shared with both teams winning 23 and drawing 17 against each other before kick off.
Most of the pre match talk was that Vardy would become the first Leicester City player to score in 7 consecutive top flight matches should he bag a goal against the Eagles.
Only one change was made to the line up that started against Southampton, with Okazaki making way for Riyad Mahrez who came back into the starting line up for the first time since the home game vs Arsenal in September. Ulloa missed out through injury and Kramaric was re-introduced to the bench after his surprise absence last weekend.
Palace came with a strong line up and had some real threats in the form of Bakary Sako, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie, with options of Bamford, Zaha and Jedinak on the bench.
The game started with Leicester pressing Palace hard from the start. Marc Albrighton was busy in the opening minutes and almost gave City the lead in the sixth minute as his shot rebounded off the base of the far post, with Mahrez following up, but dragging his shot wide when he perhaps should have scored. Leicester bossed it in the first 20 minutes with Danny Drinkwater pulling all the strings in the middle and N’Golo Kante going toe to toe with some big units who did their best to bully Leicester, with referee Mike Dean doing little to offer City any protection.
Palace found their feet and did well to peg City back, but were limited to only one real shot on 36 which Schmeichel gathered with ease in the centre of the goal. The Leicester back line looked solid and held their shape well. Morgan and Huth dealt with all arial threats and Simpson and Fuchs managed to keep the Eagles dangerous wingers at bay. The teams went in at 0-0 at half time in what turned into a very tactical first half from both teams.
Palace came out in the second half with a spring in their step and started very brightly forcing an immediate corner, however it was headed harmlessly wide by Scott Dann. Leicester soon settled and once again Drinkwater ran the show in the middle, backed up by N’Golo Kante winning some big duals in the middle of the park.
Schlupp carved out a chance on 56, but dragged his long distance shot wide of the right hand post. City did however go in front 2 minutes later. Kasper Schmeichel made a long clearance which eventually fell to Hangeland, who had plenty of time to control the ball and play it out. Instead, he played it straight to Riyad Mahrez who delivered a first time defence splitting pass to Vardy, who still had plenty of work to do, advancing on Hennessy’s goal.
Vardy cleverly chipped the ball over Hennessy before smashing it into the roof of the net with Scott Dann hot on his heels. He wheeled away and counted his ten goals for the season on his fingers in front of a jubilant blue army, joining an elite group of 7 others who have scored in 7 or more consecutive premier league matches and only the fifth different English player to do so.
Palace continued to press City with the match becoming very physical, causing Leicester to pick up two bookings in as many minutes through Simpson and Schlupp. Palace came close on 69 with a long range shot from Sako which was saved at full stretch by Schmechel who did well to punch the ball clear in the process.
Dyer and Okazaki came in to the fold as City continued in search of a second when Ranieri could have easily opted to try to close the match out. Some resolute defending was required in the final 10 minutes as Palace went in search of a leveller. Zaha took a dive in the box late on and was duly given a yellow card by Mike Dean.
The equaliser never came and City held on to record their first clean sheet of the season. It was fitting the they had to work hard for it rather being given a clean sheet on a plate, unlike the Pizza that was being cooked in the oven for the players.
Some stats from the match is that this was Leicester’s 100th Premier League win, Vardy has had a hand in 19 goals in his last 20 appearances (14 Goals and 5 assists) and a really impressive stat is that Drinkwater had 88 touches in the game, more than any other City player in a PL match this season.
All eyes now turn to the cup match away to Hull on Tuesday where Ranieri is sure to Tinker with the line up.
OUR Man of the Match – Danny Drinkwater
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