Crystal Palace 1:0 Leicester City
A very poor City performance saw them lose 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday…
Claude Puel made four changes to his starting line-up with Vardy and Maguire returning from injury, Albrighton back in, and Fuchs replacing the injured Chilwell.
But if this was a side that looked very close to City’s strongest, they didn’t play like it.
There was an early scare when Maguire went down clutching the knee that had kept him sidelined since early November, but he recovered after treatment.
City then had the first chance of the game, but Ndidi blazed his shot over.
There were few notable incidents for most of the first half, played out in pouring rain.
In the 24th minute an Ayew cross found the roof of the net.
Then, four minutes later, Vardy netted after a coming together with Palace keeper Guaita, but the goal was ruled out. Replays seemed to show that the keeper was rather lucky, with it looking like a 50-50 challenge.
Soon after this Vardy got his head to a Fuchs cross but failed to test Guaita.
A rare moment of quality in a midfield scrap of a game saw Palace take a 38th minute lead. Milivojevic collected the ball 20 yards out and was allowed time and space to line up a fine shot that beat Schmeichel to his right. Son was allowed to do the same in the Spurs game the previous week.
Palace pressed forward as half time approached and Meyer sent a low shot inches wide. McArthur then went on a run into the area, but threw himself down as Ricardo came in to challenge, earning himself a yellow card.
Claude Puel made a change for the second half with Ghezzal on for Maddison. Gray was moved into the centre, but wasted a couple of chances that went flying over the bar.
Gray then attempted to beat the entire palace defence on his own, a lucky deflection setting him up for a shot on the turn that went wide.
After a couple of off target shots from Palace, City put a decent move together but Ghezzal side-footed wide.
Puel made his second change in the 72nd minute, bringing Iheanacho on for Gray.
City’s best move of the game almost produced a goal in the 78th minute. Ghezzal and Iheanacho combined to slice through Palace’s back line and set up Vardy, whose poked effort was well saved by Guaita. The ball hit the inside of the left hand post and went straight back into the keeper’s grasp.
It was City’s last decent chance and they ended a miserable afternoon in South London with no goals and no points. Palace hadn’t been any better, but summoned up one special moment that won the game.
City’s performance had been lacking in direction, with the fans, and quite possibly the players unsure of what the plan was.
The pressure is beginning to build on Claude Puel again, and City moved down to 12th place.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Sakho, van Aanholt, McArthur, Kouyaté (Schlupp 65), Milivojevic, Meyer (Puncheon 90), Townsend, Ayew (Sørloth 78). Substitutes: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Wickham.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mendy, Ndidi, Albrighton (Okazaki 89), Maddison (Ghezzal 45), Gray (Iheanacho 73), Vardy.
Substitutes: Simpson, Evans, Ward, Iborra.
Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance: 24,738.
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