After Monday’s impressive 3-0 win over Arsenal, Patrick Vieira and his players could be forgiven for taking a rest this week and focusing on their FA Cup Semi-final against Chelsea. Instead the Frenchman will be looking to drive his team forward and continue on their outstanding recent form in front of goal.
Across all competitions Palace have scored 16 goals in their last seven games, only failing to score in a 0-0 draw with league leaders Manchester City, and with a number of confident attacking players on their books they’ll fancy their chances against a Leicester team who have struggled to keep clean sheets all season.
Kasper Schmeichel has performed his usual heroics in goal but a number of injuries to those in front of him have left Leicester without a settled defence. Wesley Fofana, who drew plaudits for his debut season last year, is only just returning from a pre-season injury and Jonny Evans has had troubles of his own this term.
Both men are available now but are yet to hit top form and against the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jean-Phillippe Mateta, who caused constant problems for Arsenal last time out, it could be a long day for those at the back for Leicester. Fortunately for home fans, while their defence has been porous their forwards have been prolific.
James Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka have all scored at least 10 goals and while Vardy is unlikely to feature due to injury Leicester still have six players with at least five goals this season available for selection.
The goals have been flying in at both ends in Leicester games this season, with 30 out of their 42 games ending with both teams on the scoresheet. A Crystal Palace win and BTTS is good value @ 9/2 but in a game between two evenly matched sides I’m backing Over 3.5 goals @ 11/5.
One Palace man who won’t be able to play at Wembley is Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher. The dynamic midfielder has been a revelation for Crystal Palace and has flourished in a role that gets the best out of his seemingly endless stamina.
The 22-year-old has caught Gareth Southgate’s eye with eight league goals, only Zaha has scored more for Palace, but it is energy in midfield that has made him undroppable for Vieira.
With Gallagher harrying the opposition it provides a platform for the likes of Michael Olise and Ebere Eze to be more creative and open up chances for the forwards. His tenacity has seen him over step the mark on occasion, nine cautions make the England man Palace’s most booked player so a Bet Builder of Gallagher to score and be booked any time in the match @ 15.5 is well worth a look as he looks .
With Jamie Vardy still battling injury it is likely that Leicester will turn to Kelechi Iheanacho to lead the line, particularly after his eye-catching performance at Old Trafford last week.
The Nigerian frontman put his side 1-0 up in the second half and, after a Fred equaliser, provided the assist for a James Maddison goal that, unfortunately for Leicester, was eventually disallowed. The goal was Iheanacho’s third in the league this season and the second time he had put Leicester 1-0 up, the last time being against Sunday’s opponents in the reverse fixture.
With the likes of Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans creating chances behind him Iheanacho will certainly get chances in what should be an entertaining game. The last fixture between these two saw Leicester race out to a two goal lead in the first half before their hosts pegged them back in the second with Iheanacho subbed off just before the Palace equaliser.
With a Europa Conference league second leg following Sunday’s game Brendan Rodgers will be looking for his most trusted available striker to stay among the goals. The 25-year-old is priced at 7/2 to open the scoring against Palace for the second time and 6/5 to score anytime.