Leicester losing their grip on the Premier League

Leicester City 0:1 Crystal Palace

2014-15 crystal palace home c

City lost another home game, while manager Nigel Pearson appeared to lose the plot at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon…

Pearson made five changes to the side that lost at Old Trafford with Mahrez returning from Africa, James returning from suspension, and Paul Konchesky, Nugent and Cambiasso regaining their starting places.
The visitors had the best of the opening quarter of an hour with Zaha and Puncheon looking lively, but City gradually gained the ascendancy. However, efforts on goal from Nugent, Schlupp, Morgan and Mahrez were either blocked, or comfortably fielded by Eagles keeper Speroni.
City’s best chance arrived in the 27th minute when Nugent got his head to a Mahrez corner, but struck the woodwork.
Soon after this Speroni produced a fine save to block a well-struck Schlupp half-volley from close in.

2014-15 crystal palace home b

In a tight game that neither side could afford to lose, the first goal was always going to be hugely important, and it was Palace who went ahead ten minutes into the second half. Hangeland was not closely marked enough at a corner and his far post header fell nicely for Ledley to bundle past Schwarzer from close in, to the delight of the big Palace following.

2014-15 crystal palace home a

City then wasted a golden opportunity for an instant equaliser.  Nugent latched on to a wayward Ledley back pass and rounded  Speroni before hesitating until the angle was too narrow. He squared to Cambiasso, who then tried to find Ulloa before a defender intercepted the pass.
Soon after Mahrez delivered a ball across the goal-mouth, but no one was there to apply a finishing touch.
Albrighton came on for Schlupp in the 66 minute, and sent over three good quality crosses from the right in a matter of minutes, but City had no presence in the danger area.
Puncheon went close with a long-range effort, but Palace were more interested in defending the points.
The introduction of Kramarić and Vardy livened things up a bit.  Vardy’s flick from a Mahrez’s free kick brought a save from Speroni, and there were loud appeals for a penalty when Kramarić was shoved over in the area by Kelly, but it appears that we do not get awarded penalties in this division.
City’s last chance of the game saw a fierce shot from Vardy blocked by a fine Speroni save, and a third league defeat in a row saw the threat of relegation grow yet larger.

The headlines, however, would be concentrating on a bizarre incident late in the game when McArthur was tripped and ended up colliding with Pearson in the technical area.  The following exchange seemed to veer between jokey and menacing, as Pearson wrapped his hands round the grounded players neck, before helping him up. Words were then exchanged and the fourth official had to physically intervene to loosen Pearson’s grip on the Palace player’s sleeve.

By Sunday evening Sky News was reporting that Pearson has been sacked, while other news sources claimed that he had walked.
Some four hours later Sky performed a u-turn and said he was still Leicester City manager, and then an official club statement read:

“Contrary to media speculation on Sunday evening, Nigel remains the Club’s First Team Manager. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and without foundation. Nigel, his staff and the first team squad are entirely focused on Tuesday night’s trip to Arsenal and our continued efforts to secure our position in the Barclays Premier League.”
Still… it’s never dull, is it?

Leicester: Schwarzer, Konchesky, Morgan, James, Schlupp (Albrighton 66), Simpson (Vardy 79), Cambiasso, Ulloa, Mahrez, Wasilewski, Nugent (Kramarić 71). Subs Not Used: De Laet, Drinkwater, King, Hamer.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann (Hangeland 46), Zaha, Gayle (Guedioura 78), McArthur, Mutch (Sanogo 46), Delaney, Ledley, Kelly, Puncheon. Subs Not Used: Mariappa, Campbell, Hennessey, Murray.

Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 31,695.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

 

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