Crystal Palace v Leicester City
Sunday 03 November, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Hodgson's Eagles flying higher than expected
Things change quickly in football, and after a worryingly toothless start to the Premier League campaign that saw them draw 0-0 against Everton and then lose 1-0 at Sheffield United, Crystal Palace have spread their wings and taken off.
They have won four out of their last eight league games, and in their most recent top-flight outing, they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Arsenal.
It's worth bearing in mind how tough Palace's fixture list has been. They have already faced Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Wolves, and Opta tell us this will be their fourth straight game against a side starting the weekend in the top five. Palace have been particularly impressive on their travels, winning at Manchester United and West Ham, and drawing at the Emirates.
Palace are by no means regular scorers (ten goals in ten games) and the xG figures from Infogol suggest there will soon be a correction in their form - on Expected Goals, Palace should be in 13th place. However, the south Londoners are consistently eking out results, and they have once again become tough to overcome at Selhurst Park. They have lost just once at home this season, and that was against Manchester City.
There are no fresh injury concerns for boss Roy Hodgson, and he may pick the same side that frustrated Arsenal.
Rodgers trying to play it down, but Foxes are flying
Leicester City is a club that's become used to causing a stir in recent seasons, and last Friday's brutal evisceration of Southampton has certainly made everyone sit up and take notice.
Many teams would have eased off at 4-0 or 5-0, but the Foxes showed no mercy in racking up nine goals without reply, and that ruthlessness should serve them well in the race for the top four. At time of writing, Leicester are 2.447/5 to finish in the Champions League spots. That's shorter than both Arsenal and Tottenham, while Manchester United are 5.04/1 to make the top four.
That state of affairs is testament to Brendan Rodgers' ability as a coach. He has embedded an attractive style of play, and is getting the best out of players like Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu (among many others.) Those above Rodgers deserve praise too - the Foxes' player recruitment has been largely excellent, giving the manager the tools to do his job stylishly and effectively.
Rodgers has advised caution the wake of that firework display at St Mary's, and he has spoken of a change in mentality at the club, although it is worth bearing in mind that the Foxes still have plenty of the players who helped produce one of the greatest title successes in European football history.
Rodgers has selected the same starting eleven in each of the last two Premier League matches, and with no fresh injury concerns, he could extend that run of consistency, as Leicester chase a third straight Premier League win. The concern for Foxes fans will be the team's awful recent record against Sunday's opponents Crystal Palace - Opta tell us that Leicester have lost their last four league matches against the Eagles, with an aggregate score of 13-1 in the London side's favour.
Palace's record deserves respect
The temptation is to get carried away with what Leicester did to Southampton, but Saints had a player sent off early on, and then proceeded to produce one of the most lily-livered, feeble performances the Premier League has ever seen. Palace are unlikely to be so obliging, and their recent record against Leicester is outstanding.
Leicester feel too short to me at 2.26/5. Stretching back into last season, they have only won two of their last seven away games at this level, while Palace have only suffered one defeat in their last seven home matches in the Premier League.
I'll back Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at 1.814/5.
Goals may be in short supply
Under 2.5 Goals is the favourite here at 1.834/5, and I can understand why. Palace's last five home games have all featured fewer than three goals, as have three of the Foxes' last six away matches in the PL. Palace boss Hodgson will be keen to deny Leicester space to get the likes of Maddison and Vardy into the game, and if there's one thing the former England boss knows how to do, it's to drill a team to defend well.
Vardy to extend his run?
Jamie Vardy netted a hat-trick against Southampton, and he has nine league goals already this season. The England striker has been revitalised by Rodgers, after becoming jaded and ineffective under the more cautious Claude Puel. Vardy is trading at 2.35/4 to score at any time at Selhurst Park. Ayoze Perez also scored a treble at St Mary's, but they were his first goals for the club, which perhaps explains his price of 4.3100/30.