Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us as we bring you live coverage of Leicester City
's clash with travelling Crystal Palace
in the Premier League.
Since taking over at the King Power following the departure of Craig Shakespeare, Claude Puel
has been overseeing a quiet revolution in the club's fortunes this term. The Foxes have claimed 17 points from eight matches since the Frenchman took over in October. Only Manchester City and Burnley have a better points tally during that period.
Central to the upturn has been minor tweaks to his side's shape and they appear to have freed up the mercurial Riyad Mahrez
and fellow attacker Jamie Vardy
, who have been standout performers during the winter. Puel's men have now won four consecutive league matches and also have six wins in their last nine.
At the other end of the table, Roy Hodgson
and his Crystal Palace side have been slightly less impressive, although the former England coach does now seem to be building a work ethic and system capable of fending off relegation. Palace have collected 10 points from their previous six league matches. That total of points is as many as they were able to collect in the 17 games prior to that run.
Should the Eagles pick up at least a point this afternoon, Palace would move to seven unbeaten - representing their longest undefeated run in the top flight since a tally of 12 games 17 years ago.
Right, time for some team news now. Leicester are expected to make a host of changes after Puel rested a number of key men during their 4-1 midweek win over Southampton.
LEICESTER CITY STARTING XI:
Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Iborra, Ndidi, Mahrez
, Albrighton, Gray; Vardy
LEICESTER CITY SUBSTITUTES: Hamer, Fuchs, Dragovic, King, Okazaki, Iheanacho, Ulloa
CRYSTAL PALACE STARTING XI: Speroni; Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Schlupp; McCarthur, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek; Townsend, Zaha, Benteke
CRYSTAL PALACE SUBSTITUTES: Hennessey, Van Aanholt, Soaure, Lee, Sako, Wann-Bissaka, Riedeweld
As expected, Puel has made changes from the side that thrashed Saints on Wednesday. Both Vicente Iborra
and Marc Albrighton
return in midfield, leaving City playing with Jamie Vardy
up top alone, who is to be supported by a five-man midfield inclusive of Iborra, Albrighton, Wilfred Ndidi
and Demarai Gray
The major news for Palace is that Hodgson has continued to lead the line with the out-of-sorts Christian Benteke
. The Belgian striker is now without a goal in his last 13 Premier League games - the longest that the frontman has ever gone without scoring in the league. Luka Milivojevic
is suspended for one game, meaning that James McArthur
starts in the middle after bagging the winner against Watford during the week.
Both sides will come into this contest with renewed confidence under their respective coaches, especially consider that they both picked up equally impressive wins during the week. Looking at the head-to-heads, City are unbeaten in their last four Premier League encounters with the Eagles. Although across their last 10 Premier League matches, they have an equal record of four wins and two draws against each other.
Despite Shakespeare's absence, one key piece of his summer transfer business has proven effective in the shape of centre-back Harry Maguire. As well as pushing himself into the international frame with England, Maguire has been key to this Leicester side both at the back and going forward. Such is the measure of the youngster's ability on the ball, the 24-year-old is Leicester's joint-top assist maker in the side, contributing to five league goals this season alongside teammate Mahrez.
Regardless of their own minor resurgence, Palace still have it all to do - especially going forward. Benteke's form is a major problem for Hodgson, who has already said that he cannot afford to carry a striker that is not scoring goals in a system dependent on a lone target man. Having said that, three points today could lift the Eagles out of the bottom three and they might just remain above the scrap should other results go their way later on this afternoon.
The King Power has proven to be a popular hunting ground for the Foxes of late. Leicester have failed to score in just one of their previous 15 league matches when playing at home.
The problematic statistic for travelling Palace fans today is the fact that their still are still to score an away league goal this season. Yep, that's right... The Eagles are now goalless in 10 running Premier League away games going back to May. Hodgson might takes some positive from that recently, though, by mentioning that his side have recorded back-to-back clean sheets on the road.
One man that certainly loves playing in this fixture is Vardy. The frontman has played a part in a goal in each one of his last three league starts when facing Palace. During those three encounters the striker has scored two and assisted another.
Along with McGuire, Puel's use of Gray has been a key feature under the new coach. The youngster certainly has that air of unpredictability on the pitch and his presence has arguably left defenders questioning where to position themselves, essentially leaving more room for Vardy and Mahrez to work the spaces in the final third.
There's also a personal accolade up for grabs in the early kickoff for Puel. The coach could win five league fixtures in a row for the first time since he did the same with Lyon during his time at the French outfit in 2008.
Hodgson has been speaking ahead of the encounter today. Here's what he said via Palace's official Twitter feed: "We know how much of a threat that Leicester will pose for us today. It is a case of us doing our job of defending well and making sure we profit when we do win the ball and hurt them on the counter attack."
Puel has been quick to play down talk of his side's hike in performances recently, instead seeming to focus on how his team can still improve throughout the season: "We have had some good results, but we still have some aspects to correct. We must try to continue to improve today against a good team."
It's a chilly four degrees Celsius up in Leicester today. At the moment the skies are fairly clear, but we're expecting some rain showers at some point, potentially great for the counter attack! Welcome to the festive period, everyone...
Just over ten minutes to go until kickoff. Here's a couple of snaps from a little earlier as Leicester went through their final preparations on the pitch:
The ground is starting to fill up nicely and it's time to make a prediction. Leicester will fancy themselves at home, especially when scoring four against Southampton with a considerably weaker team sheet. You have to worry about Palace going forward - even if they do manage one goal today that likely won't be enough to dent a Foxes side that at times can be rampant in the final third. I'm backing the hosts to secure a 2-1 win at the King Power.
The clappers are in full throng now as we await the start of the game. The players are emerging in the tunnel, we'll be under way in a couple of minutes.
KICKOFF! Palace get things moving at the King Power, featuring in all white, while the hosts are in all blue.
Leicester make some early inroads down the left channel as Gray leads a counter after pitching the ball from kickoff. A long pass is looped into Vardy, who can't bring the ball down under pressure from Kelly.
Some initial controversy and it comes courtesy of Benteke, who puts all of his body weight into a challenge from Schmeichel on the edge of the box after a poor back-pass from McGuire. That might just fill both the keeper and striker with confidence - positive movements from both early on.
There are some inviting pockets of space opening up in the middle for both sides already. Gray looks to burst into some of it with a promising run, but his cut-back towards Albrighton on the left flank is intercepted just as things start to look dangerous.
Zaha is causing issues on the left and some confusion at the back sees the ball break kindly for former Foxes man Schlupp, who drills an effort across the face of goal and wide.
Excellent work from McGuire sees the centre-back track Benteke all the way down the right flank, before putting in a perfectly-timed tackle to dispossess the forward. The away side have made some promising attacks already.
The Foxes make their first real stretching move of the contest as Vardy runs off the shoulder in behind before winning a corner. The ball into the middle finds McGuire, who heads just wide of the far-post. Not a bad chance for the youngster really...
The visitors put together another quick move on the counter as the Eagles break through the middle. The ball is eventually fed into the path of Loftus-Cheek, who sees his curling shot saved down low by Schmeichel.
End-to-end now as Leicester lead their own breakaway down the right channel. Gray beats Schlupp and turns a cross into the middle of the box, which is cleared by Dann at the near post. The counter has proven effective for both sides thus far. Nobody seems too willing to keep hold of the ball for too long.
Hodgson might be the slighter happier of the managers at the moment, Palace have shown lots of intent on the counter. The Foxes have offered glimmers of a spark on the break too, but nothing much of note from the hosts just yet.
SHOT! First attempt for the home side now as Albrighton's cross is cleared only into the path of Iborra on the edge of the area, but the midfielder lashes a tame effort wide of the target without troubling Speroni in the Palace goal.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 0-1 CRYSTAL PALACE (CHRISTIAN BENTEKE)
He's done it... That could be a huge goal in Palace's season as Benteke finally breaks his league drought of 13 games without a goal in the top flight. The away side have been the brighter of the two teams and the Belgian confirms that. The ball is swung in from the right by Townsend, leaving Benteke to peel off the back of his man and send a thunderous header beyond a helpless Schmeichel.
The goal appears to have sparked the hosts into life and they now look busy on the edge of the Palace area. Simpson almost finds the cheekiest of balls through to Vardy, although Dann gets a foot in at the vital moment, allowing Tomkins to hoof clear.
If the Foxes are to get back into the game, Gray looks the most likely source at the moment. Mahrez has virtually been a passenger over on the right and the home side are showing a real lack of movement, characterised by Iborra frustrated hand signals in the middle of the park.
Best move of the game now for Leicester as Mahrez and Vardy combine to find Iborra, who then switches play to Gray on the left flank. The winger looks for a return to Vardy in the middle, but the cross doesn't clear the first man at the front post.
CLOSE! Albrighton has the chance to turn another ball into the middle from a free kick. The delivery is a brilliant, bending effort, although Dann makes a great clearance with his head. The ball then finds its way back into the box where Vardy heads it down for McGuire, who can't quite adjust his feet in time to get the shot away.
Encouraging signs again for the hosts, this time as Gray makes use of a poor clearance to break into the box on the left side. The youngster feeds a pass through to Vardy, who mis-controls before able to find a shot towards Speroni's goal.
Hodgson will be delighted by his forward's work in the first half here. This time Zaha makes a standout run into the box before cutting back onto his left and testing Schmeichel down low. More goals to come here, surely?
The opener appears to have boosted Benteke, who is starting to win the duels McGuire in the air, allowing Palace a slightly different option out from the back.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 0-2 CRYSTAL PALACE (WILFRIED ZAHA)
What a goal and a prime example of how Palace have been able to turn things from back to front within the blink of an eye. A threaded pass leaves Benteke staring down defenders on the edge of the area, and the striker smartly feeds the ball to Zaha on the overlap. The winger shapes to shoot first before tricking his marker with a step-over, allowing him space to lash a memorable finish beyond Schmeichel.
Palace must be a dreamland at the moment, they have dominated the first half when going forward. Leicester have looked bereft of ideas when the ball over the top for Vardy hasn't worked. Puel has some work to do at the break if his side want to find a route back into the game.
HALF TIME: LEICESTER CITY 0-2 CRYSTAL PALACE
What have we just witnessed, it's like buses isn't it... Palace have been without an away goal in the league since April and two arrive at once. Hodgson will surely be delighted with that showing, the visitors have put the Foxes to the sword with two great pieces of play. The home side have really struggled for tempo and have been unable to perform their own effective countering due to Palace's deep defending.
Benteke ending his drought has proved vital too, not only for the opener but for the second too. The striker held off two men with great confidence before threading the pass for Zaha to convert and put the visitors in control on the road.
SECOND HALF! We are back underway at the King Power. No changes for either side - Puel will be hoping whatever he has had to say at the break makes an impact.
One point for Leicester to note is that Palace defended rather narrowly in the first half, potentially leaving lots of space down both flanks. Gray looked to use it, but the visitors will likely need to bring Mahrez into the game a lot more during the second period.
CLOSE! The away side almost kill the game off for good. Some brilliant work from McArthur in the middle sees the Palace man win the ball back and feed Townsend on the break. The winger swings a cross early for the run of Benteke, who can't quite connect with his diving header and the Foxes are dealt a reprieve.
SAVE! Speroni is called into action for the first time in the second half and he does brilliantly to turn away an effort from Mahrez. The Algerian cuts inside and then out of Schlupp, only to see his driven effort tipped away down low by the Palace stopper.
Palace look like a different side at the moment. More great mopping up in the middle of the park allows Schlupp and Zaha to combine down the left, leaving the full-back to poke a cross towards the front-post, where Benteke is just about put off by the challenge from McGuire.
You have to wonder how long until Puel makes a change - potentially bringing on Okazaki as another option. Vardy has looked isolated so far despite lots of hard work running the channels.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Leicester think they are back in the game as Mahrez turns a ball into the middle, leaving Iborra to turn a smart header past Speroni. The referee blows straight away for a foul and it's a great call from the official. Iborra just about nudges Tomkins to put the defender off.
RED CARD! Oh god... Ndidi sees red on his birthday for a second yellow card for probably one of the worst dives of the season. The winger goes down inside the area trying to fool the referee, who has made two excellent calls in the space of one minute.
Some real quality on display from Zaha, who jinks his way past two men inside the area and then lays off an almost-perfect pass for Benteke. Albrighton looks to have made a last ditch tackle on the striker to prevent him from getting a shot off, although replays show that that might just have been a penalty to the visitors. Leicester are living very dangerously now!
Palace will still have to be wary of the hosts' quality and Mahrez makes that apparent with a wonderful run beyond the midfield, which requires some very swift firefighting from Schlupp, who concedes a free kick and yellow card right on the edge of the box.
Gray is the one to deliver from a great position, but his shot flies over the bar despite having some great pace on it. The winger can't get it up and down in time and Speroni is spared in the Palace goal.
Zaha has been imperious for Palace. This time the winger shows great strength to provide a target on the break, before winning a free kick inside the Leicester half from an over-eager Morgan.
Nothing comes of the set-piece as Palace decide to circulate possession instead. The visitors have looked comfortable on the ball and are starting to vary up their play, both holding in the middle and looking to counter when the move is on.
Leicester's insistence on getting back into the match is leaving gaping holes in the middle and Palace are looking to exploit. McArthur picks up the ball unchallenged and looks for the run of Zaha, but his pass is poor and Simpson intercepts.
Leicester come back again down the right, this time via Albrighton. The winger only has Vardy to aim for in the middle and Palace have enough men back to cover and clear the ball for a corner. The eventual set-piece is a poor one as Okazaki gets stripped in the home dugout.
SUBSTITUTIONS: Leicester make two changes as Okazaki and King come on to replace Iborra and Albrighton.
CHANCE! How has this been kept out? Another stinging move from Palace sees Townsend charge down the right before crossing towards the back-post. The delivery finds Benteke, who draws a point-blank save from Schmeichel in the home goal. A truly wonderful save, but I doubt he knew too much about it.
Are we to see any shocks here at the King Power? It doesn't look too likely with Palace seeming the more probable to score a third here. Leicester have looked totally out of sorts today and that will leave Puel with lots to think about ahead of a hectic festive schedule.
YELLOW CARD! Simpson goes into the book for a rash challenge on Townsend right on the edge of the box over on the right side of the pitch.
Gray comes forward down the left channel but again his is stifle when he cuts inside. The Palace midfield have been wonderful in winning back the ball and McArthur deserve particular praise for his work-rate. Palace on course for a vital win here!
Four minutes of additional time...
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 0-3 CRYSTAL PALACE (BAKARY SAKO)
FULL TIME: LEICESTER CITY 0-3 CRYSTAL PALACE)
What an end to the encounter as substitute Sako bends a wonderful curling effort beyond Schmeichel after another superb counter attack. Palace have been nothing short of remarkable today as they record their first away win in the league since April.
Puel will be puzzled by his side's docile performance, although Hodgson provided the perfectly tactical plan to hit the Foxes on the break, his midfielders were brilliant int breaking down play and setting up breaks for Zaha, Townsend and Benteke, who all put in standout showings. That is going to be all from me today, thank you for joining us. Please do stick around on the site for all of our 3pm live coverage too.