Palace or Leicester: who’s impressed us more?
Frank Monkhouse | 10 April 2017
Big Sam vs Shakespeare
If you’re a football fan it’s impossible not to be impressed by the turnaround in fortunes of Leicester and Crystal Palace. Both boards suffered the wrath of fans by changing things at the top, both have proven to be shrewd calls.
Rarely will we see two sides from the bottom-half boast amongst the best form in the Premier League, but that is just what we have here. Leicester, under new boss Craig Shakespeare, have won each of their last five, four of those wins coming by a two-goal margin. Palace have won four of their last five, three without conceding a goal.
Chelsea win gives Palace the edge
So, which side has been the more impressive? A dig through the form gives a clearer picture. Runaway league leaders Chelsea have lost just four times all season, the most recent of those came against Palace. The stand-out result of their comeback, and by some way too, they went to Stamford Bridge and left with a 2-1 win, despite falling behind early in proceedings.
Fabregas had Chelsea ahead with just five-minutes on the clock that day, but a quick-fire double from Zaha and Benteke, and a fearless defensive showing, turned the tables, scrapping accumulators the country over. That monumental win came hot on the heels of victory over Middlesbrough, West Brom and Watford.
Sam Allardyce’s crew saw that purple patch end last time out when going down 3-1 to Southampton in midweek. Benteke had them in front, but that impressive backline fell apart under heavy pressure, Redmond, Yoshida and Ward-Prowse on the scoresheet.
Never been a better time to face Arsenal
Next up for The Eagles is the visit of Arsenal, live on Monday night at Selhurst Park. If ever they had a chance to beat Arsenal, then it would surely be now. Just one win in their last four – two in their last seven – has Arsenal outside of the top-four, with pressure growing on Wenger to quit at the end of the season, while he’s marginally ahead. Despite the difference in fortunes between hosts and visitors, Arsenal start as odds-on 4/5 favourites for the points, while another Crystal Palace upset is a value 16/5. Punters may find that a more appealing option.
Leicester have the belief back
Crystal Palace can’t compete with Leicester in term of points won during the last five games, with the Londoners showing four wins and that loss to Southampton, while The Foxes have rediscovered that winning feeling, and aren’t for stopping. Under Shakespeare they have scalped Liverpool, Hull, West Ham, Stoke and Sunderland, scoring 13 goals in the process.
They can’t trump a win over Chelsea at the bridge, not yet anyway, but did flatten Liverpool 3-1 at the King Power, thanks to goals from Drinkwater and a Vardy double. With a return to winning ways has come a return to scoring ways for fan favourite Jamie Vardy, and there’s not too much hate mail addressed to him over the Ranieri situation now. Football fans are a fickle lot.
It’s a riddle for Coral punters to solve – has Leicester’s winning form brought back Vardy’s goals, or has Vardy’s goals brought back Leicester’s winning form? No one at the King Power will care too much and, believe it or not, the side who looked nailed on for relegation in the winter, go into the weekend in 11th-place, four points behind Southampton in ninth.
Toffees defeat won’t deter the Foxes
Leicester fell 4-2 to Everton on Sunday in a brilliant clash for the neutrals. Everton wonderkid Tom Davies put the hosts in front inside the first minute, before goals from Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton turned the game on its head with just 10 minutes on the clock. Romelu Lukaku then got on the end of an inch-perfect Ross Barkley cross to level the scores, before a towering Phil Jagielka header put the home side back in front at 3-2 – all of this coming before the half time whistle. In form striker Lukaku then dispatched again early in the first half to put clear daylight between the sides and himself four goals clear at the top of the Premier League goalscorer charts.
That defeat won’t deter Craig Shakespeare and his Leicester side though, as they look to finish in as high a position as possible, after only a couple of months ago looking like they would be preparing for life in the Championship next season. After all of the criticism following Ranieri’s sacking, it looks as though Leicester are well on the way to recovery and it could turn out to be the best thing for the club.