Simon Mail previews this weekend's game between top-four contenders Leicester and mid-table Crystal Palace with the hosts struggling to find top gear...
"Leicester have won only one of their last eight league matches and it is clear the confidence and fluency from earlier in the season is missing."
Leicester v Crystal Palace
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Foxes wobbling in top-four race
Leicester enjoyed an exceptional first half of the season but Brendan Rodgers' side are struggling to last the distance. The Foxes appeared to be heading for a top-four finish at Christmas but their form in 2020 has faltered significantly. Two wins from 11 league matches is a poor return and both of these victories came against struggling West Ham and Aston Villa.
Two points from three matches since the league resumed last month is not the type of form which will secure Champions League football next season. Draws against Watford and Brighton were unconvincing and third-placed Leicester suffered a 2-1 defeat at Everton on Wednesday. The goals have dried up for Jamie Vardy, with just two in this calendar year and the side badly need their top scorer to rediscover his form from the first half of the campaign.
Hodgson looking for strong finish with Palace
Crystal Palace have avoided any threat of a relegation battle again with Roy Hodgson's side comfortably holding their own in the Premier League. The Eagles effectively consolidated their status with three successive wins before the competition was forced to shut down in March. Palace made it four in a row last month after a 2-0 victory at lowly Bournemouth.
Palace were closing in on the top half although their progress has been checked by back-to-back defeats. Champions Liverpool demolished them 4-0 at Anfield before a lacklustre 1-0 home defeat to Burnley on Monday night. Palace have lacked a cutting edge with the side the second lowest scorers in the division with 28 goals and if influential attacker Wilfried Zaha is not excelling creativity is a problem.
Leicester short enough for home win
Leicester are [1.71] favourites but this looks short enough considering their current form. The Foxes have won only one of their last eight league matches and it is clear the confidence and fluency from earlier in the season is missing. Since the return to competition, the Foxes have faltered as favourites against Watford and Brighton suggesting they are hard to trust at a restrictive price.
Crystal Palace are [6.2] outsiders and the visitors look overpriced for this match. The Eagles have won on their last two trips to Leicester including a 4-1 victory in February 2019 which ended the reign of former manager Claude Puel. Palace cannot be discounted and should arguably be shorter with doubts surrounding Leicester.
The draw is trading at [3.8] and is also likely to attract interest. Two of Leicester's last three league outings have ended in a stalemate while opponents Palace have drawn nine times this season. It looks worth siding with the Eagles in some shape or form and having the draw on side in the double chance market, alongside an away win, appeals at [2.38].
Both teams unlikely to find the net
Goals could be in short supply at the King Power Stadium and it looks worth backing at least one of the teams to fail to score. With Vardy struggling to maintain his prolific form from the opening months of the campaign, Leicester have been short of goals lately. Rodgers' side have been shut out in four of their last seven league matches.
The argument becomes even more persuasive after assessing Crystal Palace's results. Their last six matches have seen one of the teams fail to score. Palace's lack of goals have seen them draw blanks in the last two games but their last four victories were all accomplished with a clean sheet. Backing no for both teams to score looks a strong wager at [1.8].
Since collecting maximum points across eight Premier League games, between the middle of October and December, Leicester have won just 17 points from their last 16 matches.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
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P/L 2019-20 season
Back Crystal Palace or draw double chance at [2.38]
Back no for both teams to score at [1.8]