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Preview: Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace

Sports Mole previews the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium.

The King Power Stadium will host a battle between fifth and sixth place in the Premier League table as Leicester City take on Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Foxes have lost just once in nine league games this season, while Palace have managed two wins from their last five in the top flight.

Leicester City

Claudio Ranieri Manager of Leicester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Leicester City at Britannia Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

Claudio Ranieri's side have shocked everyone with their blistering start to the season, and there are no signs of letting up from the boys in blue.

After going against all the odds and managing to secure Premier League survival under former manager Nigel Pearson last season, the Foxes have been a threat in the top flight.

Leicester opened their account with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Sunderland, and from that point onwards they went on a five-game unbeaten run.

The only blip on their radar is a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal, which came about last month as Jamie Vardy's opening goal was undone by strikes from Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez.

There is a never-say-die attitude within the Leicester team and opponents are wary that Ranieri's side can come back into the game at any moment, case in point being last weekend's match against Southampton.

The Foxes were 2-0 down at the half-time break following goals from Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk, but Vardy led the comeback with two goals of his own to secure a 2-2 draw for his side.

The concern with Leicester though, is that while they have managed to score 19 goals in nine league games, they have also conceded 16 and have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their top-flight outings.

There are also questions over Riyad Mahrez's place in the team as the technically-gifted player has been left on the bench for Leicester's last two fixtures, despite his impressive start to the season when he scored four goals in the first three league games.

Vardy is the man of the moment at not only Leicester, but in the division overall as he has scored nine goals - three more than any other player in the league.

With games against Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Watford and Newcastle United coming up, it would be fair to predict that Leicester will still be among the top echelons of the table by December.

Recent form: DWDLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WDWLWD

Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew Manager of Crystal Palace looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park on October 17, 2015© Getty Images

Alan Pardew rejuvenated the Palace side when he was appointed manager in January, and he has continued that spirit in the early stages of this season.

The Eagles find themselves sixth in the league table following five victories and four defeats in the top flight, and their away form is largely to thank for their position in the standings.

Most teams thrive on a home crowd, and Palace have one of the best atmospheres in the division at Selhurst Park, but at the moment Pardew's side are happy on the road having won nine of their last 12 away fixtures.

Before that, Palace had only managed to gain maximum points from nine out of 61 trips, so this weekend's visit to the King Power Stadium will not be daunting for the London club.

Another positive for Palace is the fact that Leicester have been leaking goals in every league game, which even prompted Pardew to tell reporters this afternoon that there is 'no chance' of a goalless draw.

The downside for the Eagles is that they head into Saturday's game on the back of a 3-1 defeat to West Ham United, which contained the controversial sending-off of Dwight Gayle.

Referee Mark Clattenburg issued a second yellow card to the attacker following a mistimed challenge in the 44th minute, and Pardew admitted today that he still feels frustrated by the decision.

If Palace can gain all three points against Leicester this weekend, they could move into the top four of the table.

Recent form: WLLWWL
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWWL

Team News

Dwight Gayle of Crystal Palace in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on September 12, 2015© Getty Images

The big absentee for the visitors this weekend is Gayle as he serves a suspension after getting sent off against West Ham last Saturday.

The question is who replaces him? Forwards Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh remain out of contention due to a knock and hamstring injury respectively.

Patrick Bamford, who is currently on loan for Chelsea, could be given the chance to prove himself as Pardew so far has not appeared too keen since the forward has not featured prominently following his move to Selhurst Park.

For the home side, the only casualty is Leonardo Ulloa, who is nursing a thigh problem, so Vardy is expected to lead the line once again, and could become only the fifth English player to score more than seven successive Premier League goals.

Shinji Okazaki could join Vardy up front, with N'Golo Kante, Marc Albrighton, Danny Drinkwater and Jeff Schlupp in midfield.

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Albrighton, Kante, Drinkwater, Schlupp; Vardy, Okazaki

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Hennessey; Kelly, Dann, Hangeland, Souare; Cabaye, McArthur, Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie; Bamford

Head To Head

It is tight in the Premier League table with just one point separating these two sides, and it is just as close in the head-to-head records with Leicester and Palace winning 23 games each in all competitions.

There have been 17 draws between the two sides, but last season it was Palace who came out on top with a 1-0 win at the King Power thanks to a 55th-minute goal from Joe Ledley.

Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, the last time that these two teams played one another on Leicester's turf was in 2012 when Palace earned a 2-1 triumph with goals from Damien Delaney and Peter Ramage.

Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:

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We say: Leicester City 2-3 Crystal Palace

As Pardew alluded to today, there seem to be high-scoring games when Leicester are involved, and expect no different when they take on Palace at home this weekend. The difference is, the Eagles are more than comfortable on the road and given the Foxes' open style of play, their opponents could exploit that on Saturday. Palace have kept just two clean sheets in the league this season, while Leicester have conceded a goal in every game. It will be a close encounter and most likely an entertaining one, but Palace could snatch their fourth away win of the campaign.

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Alan Pardew Manager of Crystal Palace looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park on October 17, 2015
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