Leicester vs Crystal Palace | Monday 26th April 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Leicester welcome Crystal Palace to the King Power as they look to strengthen their grip on a Champions League spot. The Foxes were ruthless in the first half against West Brom on Thursday, scoring three times in a 13-minute spell to put the game to bed.
Brendan Rodgers will have been delighted by the way they saw out the game, while he’ll be equally as happy with Jamie Vardy, who scored his first goal in 11 games against the Baggies.
The Northern Irishman will be fairly wary of the threat Crystal Palace possess ahead of this one. We’ve seen a few times this season where teams sitting deep with a low block have managed to keep the Foxes at arms-length and that’s something the Eagles will look to do here.
Palace have won more Premier League games against Leicester than they have facing any other side (8). So, with Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze likely to be in the starting line-up, they’ll possess plenty of threat on the break. Although they’re safe in 13th, I still doubt how expansive Roy Hodgson’s side will be because that could see them get picked off.
Part of the quandary before heading into the angles, is what Palace will turn up? We’ve seen capitulations in London derbies, losing 4-1 to both Spurs and Chelsea, while they’ve held Everton and Man Utd to draws. They are an enigma!
The betting angles
I’m expecting Palace to sit deep and soak up pressure, the early thoughts were to look at players shots from outside the box. But the bookies have cottoned on with that one. Youri Tielemans was one I considered – it’s EVS for 2+ efforts outside the box on Pokerstars. Not appealing enough.
That could see Leicester chancing their arm with a few shots from distance, so I did look at 16 or more shots for the Foxes at 5/4 with Paddy Power. They average 12 in the league this term and have hit that mark 11 times – six of those at the King Power. According to Fbref.com, the Foxes had exactly 16 shots in the reverse fixture.
Although Palace have been able to trip Leicester up in recent meetings, I just expected the hosts to have far too much quality and find a way to break through what can be a stubborn backline.
Looking at Infogol for their expected goals model, Leicester’s is the sixth-best in the top-flight at 51.6xG, while Palace have the worst at just 28.8xG. In terms of breaking that down per game: Leicester 1.61xG v 0.93xG Palace – comfortable in favour of the hosts.
At the other end, it’s a similar story. Only Leeds, Sheffield Utd and West Brom have the worst expected goals against (xGA) than Palace’s 56.1xGA. Again, Leicester’s is the sixth-best at 40.8xGA. Again, breaking it down per game: Leicester 1.28xGA v 1.81xGA Palace.
Palace’s away form isn’t too strong either – W5, D3, L7, scoring 17 and conceding 27 in those 15 games. If you look at the league positions of those five away wins, four have been against teams in the bottom six as things stand – the other was their first away game in September when they beat Man Utd at Old Trafford.
That said, Leicester’s home form hasn’t been too clever at times either. They’ve only won eight of 16 here at the King Power but have the scalps of Chelsea and Man Utd in those wins already recorded.
With there being a good chance Palace able to frustrate for large periods, the 21/20 on a home win and under 3.5 goals does look a nice way in. Five of Leicester’s eight home league wins have seen that cop, while the Foxes have managed six clean sheets in eight of their wins too.
It’s also worth mentioning that Palace have a dismal record against sides in the top six. The Eagles haven’t won any of their last 17 league games against a side starting in the top six (D5, L12), since beating West Ham, who were fifth, in October 2019.
For the second angle, I was digging deep to find something at a bigger price. With Zaha and Eze looking to break on the Foxes backline, I did look at Wesley Fofana for a card, especially if he starts on the right of a back three.
The 20-year-old has been impressive on his first season in the Premier League, but he can look a little rash at times, picking up eight yellows in all comps. Graham Scott is in charge and he’s shown 63 yellows in 21 league games, as well as five reds.
Only Mike Dean (7) has shown more red cards in the Premier League than Scott, so he’s not afraid to make a big call. Fofana at 4/1 (Betway) for a card was one avenue I went down.
But you cannot ignore the red-hot form of Kelechi Iheanacho. He’s bagged 11 goals in his last eight in all comps. His goal booked the Foxes place in the FA Cup final and he followed that up with the third on Thursday.
That’s Iheanacho to score from a Vardy assist. Very specific I know, but it’s copped a few times in Leicester home games on this magnificent goal-scoring streak. Two of his three against now-relegated Sheffield Utd were set up by Vardy, as was his strike against West Brom.
The Nigerians winner in the FA Cup semi-final was from an initial pullback from Vardy before he scored at the second attempt. There’s obvious chemistry and with Leicester’s number nine a willing runner in the channels helps to open up that space in the area for Iheanacho to be on the prowl.
That gives me faith in having an interest bet on that, as does the fact Iheanacho has scored three times in nine v Palace – he’s only scored more goals against Southampton (4) and Aston Villa (6). So, he knows how to trouble this Eagles backline, which with Gary Cahill and Cheikhou Kouyaté might not be the quickest either.
Leicester vs Crystal Palace – Leicester to win and Under 3.5 Goals (21/20 Boylesports)
Leicester vs Crystal Palace – Kelechi Iheanacho to score assisted by Jamie Vardy (17/2 Sky Bet)