The first of seven Premier League fixtures today takes us to the King Power Stadium as a resurgent Leicester under Claude Puel play host to a Crystal Palace side which is slowly but surely finding it’s stride under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson.
Leicester have pulled themselves well clear of the congested pack of teams in the mid to lower reaches of the table as they now sit 8th and just four points behind Arsenal who are a place above them in 7th. That can be explained by the rich vein of form of which they are currently in.
The Foxes have won their last four league outings and are unbeaten in their last five. Wednesday night saw them travel to the South Coast to take on Southampton at St Mary’s with their being the obvious sub plot of Claude Puel returning to his former employers.
And it was a result that would have perhaps seen Southampton rue their decision slightly as the former Saints boss masterminded a crushing away victory. You get the feeling that Claude Puel may not have gloated in public about the 4-1 win but behind the scenes he could be afforded a wry smile after getting one over his former paymasters.
Leicester fans may not have been necessarily jumping for joy when the former Monaco man was appointed as their new manager but I think it is fair to say that he is starting to win those doubters over and it is beginning to look like a shrewd appointment.
The same could be said about Crystal Palace and their decision to sack Frank De Boer after just four matches of the season, the news bought widespread howls of derision as the former Ajax boss was then replaced by Roy Hodgson who himself failed to earn a point or a goal in his first three matches in charge.
But the wheels are starting to turn now and Palace have managed to catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. The no more obvious measure of this is the fact that they are no longer bottom of the Premier League after such a miserable start to the campaign.
Their last ten matches have yielded 14 points as they have almost all but erased the horror start to the season from memory but at the same time they cannot afford to rest on their laurels as the task in hand is nowhere near complete.
To be to fair to them there was no resting on their laurels on Tuesday night as they came from behind against Watford to earn all three points in dramatic fashion. The South London outfit were looking defeat in the face once again after Daryl Janmaat’s early goal.
But a late sending off for Watford’s Tom Cleverly turned the game on the hand and not only did it leave the Hornets a man short but it also give the Eagles the extra impetus to go on and snatch all three points in front of their own fans.
Two late goals would mean exactly that as Bakary Sako and then James McCarthur flipped the game upside down and gave Palace victory. Harsh on Watford but also the measure of the dogged resistance that this Palace side are now showing with a second late win in five matches.
Not only that but Palace have picked up two wins and four draws from their last six matches and find themselves a very respectable ninth in the form table (that being if we take the last six fixtures in isolation), the confidence is certainly growing especially with the prospect of the transfer window re-opening in a couple of weeks.
But to temper the mood slightly I think they may come unstuck this lunchtime as they go up against a Leicester side who find themselves fourth in that very same form table and with that in mind they will go into this game as favourites. No form book upset for me as I go for a home win.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
Time for some more Premier League scientific polls for tomorrow
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) December 15, 2017