Published author, Palace fan and all-round lovely bloke Richard Foster will be providing HLTCO with match previews throughout the 2015/16 campaign, bringing a degree of thoughtful perspective to the madness of the Premier League from week to week.
Like last week’s game, we come up against one of the form teams in Leicester this weekend. Arguably the Foxes carry the mantle of ‘surprise team of the season’ as they have continuously delighted their supporters by recovering lost causes as if it’s shelling peas.
On four occasions they have been two goals down and showed remarkable powers of ‘bouncebackability’ (as Iain Dowie would describe it) in drawing three and winning one of those games. This illustrates a strong spirit and makes them dangerous opponents, added to which they have the Premier League’s top scorer Jamie Vardy who has already notched nine goals.
What is even more remarkable about their spectacular form this season is the upheaval they suffered when Nigel “The Throttler” Pearson was jettisoned unceremoniously after performing minor miracles in keeping them up last season. Claudio Ranieri was brought in to replace him and most people predicted that The Tinkerman would struggle to keep the momentum from the latter part of last season going. But the Italian has done more than that with the relatively unheralded Mahrez proving to be somewhat of a revelation. Much like West Ham, Leicester have been remarkably positive in their attitude and as Pardew said this is unlikely to be a 0-0.
Palace need to bounce back from the West Ham defeat when the side’s resilience was cruelly undermined by two late goals. There is no hiding the fact that we lost to the better side, who were sharper and much more threatening going forward, even before controversial dismissal of Gayle transformed the game. The second half display showed commendable effort in holding out for so long but the worry was that our attacking options were so limited and lame. It proved once and for all that Bolasie never has been and never will be a lone striker.
Pardew’s dilemma is who replaces Gayle upfront. Wickham is the obvious choice but he has not played for over a month and will be rusty. Neither Campbell nor Bamford inspire much confidence so we might struggle to match Leicester’s firepower. What we can and should do is to match their indefatigable spirit, led by the ever-impressive Cabaye who leads the Premier League in interceptions. This is a side of the game I, for one, did not expect to be part of the Frenchman’s armoury but he has been magnifique in doing the ‘dirty work’ as well as having a range of passing and a calm authority rarely seen at Selhurst. Allez les Aigles.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian and Sabotage Times. He also writes for a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines, including Five Year Plan.
His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Football League Play-Offs – is out now and available via www.ockleybooks.co.uk. A revised paperback edition will be released mid-November.
Talking Balls!, his sports quotes book, was published in September and is the perfect stocking filler for any sports fan this Christmas.
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster