Leicester City are flying in all competitions at the moment, but will find a harder challenge than predicted against 6th place Crystal Palace. Here are some areas the game could be decided.
Ben Chilwell vs Wilfried Zaha
Chilwell put in the kind of display we’ve all been waiting for against Southampton. He has all the tools to be excellent fullback going forwards and backwards, but doesn’t put it all together often enough, particularly defensively.
If I was forced to pick a weakness in our Premier League leading defence, it would probably be the England LB. Intriguingly, he’ll be directly up against Palace’s strongest attacking threat: the league’s 2nd best Wilf.
Wilfried Zaha: Was dispossessed more times (143) than any other player in Europe's top five leagues last season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 18, 2019
For more player stats -- https://t.co/gnmc4TYiHh pic.twitter.com/u0QPKSzIU9
Zaha is just as talented as Chilwell, but is even less reliable. His running with the ball will scare any defender, and somedays he looks unbeatable, but hasn’t turned that into production with goals or assists so far (expected or real). Their contest should be an interesting one.
One area that Chilwell will certainly have the upper hand is going forward, where Zaha doesn’t offer much cover for his fullback, who will already be contending with an in form Harvey Barnes.
Counter vs Counter
As you’d expect from Roy Hodgson, Palace are set up to be defensively sound and soak up pressure with some of the least possession in the league. With two absolute fliers out wide in Zaha and good old Jeff Schlupp, they can always be dangerous on the counter attack.
With a much higher line, and higher possession style, Leicester are more prone to the threat of defensive opponents on the break these days. Fortunately, they’re also better equipped to handle that than ever, with the fastest defence we’ve seen here, possibly ever.
During the games, he helps me a lot with his experience and I listen to everything he says. He’s older than me, and he’s more experienced so I respect him. He’s a good person - Söyüncü told lcfc.com about Jonny Evans’ impact on the defence
When talking counter attack, it’s also wise to never ignore Jamie Vardy. The odds may be stacked agains him in a game that will probably be played mostly in the opposition half, but Palace will come forwards sometimes, and he doesn’t need many chances.
No player in the league has lost possession as often as Wilfried Zaha so far. Meanwhile, the Foxes boast the league’s two leading tacklers, and the leader in interceptions. Unexpected loss of the ball can leave even the most organised team’s exposed at the back, if the ball comes quickly enough.
When they create those turnovers, look for our creative players to find Vardy as quickly as possible.
Overwhelm the defence
You might have noticed that Youri Tielemans has hit a decent patch of form. Through his last four outings for club and country he’s contributed four goals and two assists. He won all four, including two 9-0 thrashings.
It doesn’t hurt that everyone seems to be coming into form around him. Harvey Barnes has four assists in as many league games, Ben Chilwell is getting forward to great effect, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy are both finding the net regularly and now Ayoze Perez is getting in on it.
#lcfc's @Vardy7 and Youri Tielemans have been nominated for the EA Sports Player of the Month award!— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 1, 2019
Vote here https://t.co/ekpBOpE56b pic.twitter.com/7ifgooGTSD
The only attacking player not currently in his best form is Ricardo Pereira, and last year’s player of the season is still a threat every time he touches the ball.
Palace have conceded only 12 goals so far, one of the best defensive records in the country. 8 of those, however, came in three games against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Arsenal, teams with an impressive array for attacking talent.
The Foxes can absolutely match that kind of fire power and could well overpower the Palace defence by weight of numbers.