Leicester v Crystal Palace: Back a fast and efficient win for the Foxes
Leicester will attempt to give themselves more breathing space in the race to finish in the top four on Monday night, and Mike Norman believes they'll do exactly that...
Foxes back in the driving seat
After back-to-back league defeats Leicester got back to winning ways with a polished performance at home to West Brom on Thursday night, winning 3-0, ensuring that they will commence Monday's game against Crystal Palace third in the table and in pole position to qualify for next season's Champions League.
The victory over the Baggies was pleasing for so many reasons. Claiming the three points was obviously the priority, but such a dominant performance, the return of James Maddison to the starting XI, and Jamie Vardy getting back among the goals; all aspects of the win will have delighted Brendan Rodgers.
And in a season where the Foxes have generally performed better on the road, it's perhaps worthy of a mention that Thursday's win was Leicester's seventh home victory from their last 10 domestic matches at the King Power Stadium.
In fact in that spell the Foxes have defeated the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United by two clear goals, so not too shabby home form at all.
Rodgers will view the game against Palace as a must-win encounter in order to build up a gap between Leicester and the teams below them, especially given that their last four leagues games of the season are away to Southampton, Man Utd and Chelsea, and then home to Tottenham. It's not an easy run-in.
Eagles not exactly flying
Without being too disrespectful to Crystal Palace, when I was thinking about what to write to assess their season and current form I actually struggled to remember what they've been up to in recent months.
The Eagles are sitting relatively comfortable in the table so they rarely get talked about when it comes to relegation, they've done nothing special of late, they have no star players currently hitting the headlines, and some of their recent results were instantly forgettable. So it's no wonder I struggled to remember anything about them.
Those recent results include two goalless draws - the 0-0 v Manchester United being a candidate for one of the worst games of football in living memory - a couple of heavy defeats, a dull 1-0 win over West Brom, and a 1-1 draw with Everton.
So in fairness, Roy Hodgson's men have taken six points from their last six games, and they've lost only two of those matches, so it's hard to be too critical.
Star man Wilfried Zaha hasn't scored since January however, and if we're being truthful then that's probably the reason why Palace haven't hit many headlines of late. When Zaha doesn't start, or he has an average game, then his team generally struggle and can be a bit of a dull watch.
First half joy and three points for hosts
In the Match Odds market Leicester are available to back at 1.5 (Crystal Palace 9.0, the Draw 4.5) so I'm tempted to just move straight on, but I have to admit to thinking that the Foxes will win this game comfortably and that their win price is more than fair.
I'm not about to stick up a 1.5 shot as a nap however, though given that I fancy Leicester strongly to win this game I have to find a way of getting the home victory on side.
Leicester's last three victories on home soil were all achieved by scoring first half goals, and I just have a feeling that with Vardy back in goalscoring form and Kelechi Iheanacho being the hottest striker on the planet right now - 11 goals in his last eight starts is quite remarkable at this level - that the Foxes will get the job done early in this match.
Leicester/Leicester in the Half Time/Full Time market can be backed at 2.3 and is my best bet of the game.
Shoot to profit with in-form Kelechi
I tried desperately hard to find a bet in the increasingly popular 'match shots' markets on the Sportsbook but I just couldn't see an edge anywhere.
For example, it's even money we see at least 25 shots but I feel that tally could be massively let down by Palace who have registered just 66 shots in their last 10 games, while Leicester have managed 120 shots in their last 10 outings. A 10-game average of 6.6 and 12 match shots doesn't justify a double-your-money punt that we witness at least 25 match shots on Monday night.
However I do feel there's a 'shots' bet to be had regarding Iheanacho who is undoubtedly Leicester's - and arguably the Premier League's - most in-form player.
The 24-year-old is averaging a shot at goal approximately once every 26 minutes in the league this season (41 shots in 1,061 minutes played), so not far short of four shots per game. But that statistic includes eight substitute appearances before he was given a chance in the starting XI.
Since nailing down a first team place Iheanacho's shot average is more near to one every 20 minutes, so 4.5 shots per game. He's faced the likes of Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd and West Ham in that time so it's fair to assume that his shot average is much better against bottom half sides, just like Leicester register more shots against those teams as opposed to top half of the table teams.
The Foxes' in-form striker is 11/8 to register '5 Or More Shots' against Palace on Monday night, and in a game I expect his team to dominate I think that's a bet worth having.
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