Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year Conclusions from Selhurst Park


Crystal Palace1-2Leicester City
(HT 1-2)
Parr 41Danns 19
Bamba 37
Howard off 87

Selhurst Park, attendance: 14,468
BBC Match Report


Home Team: Price, Clyne, Keinan, Ramage, Parr, Garvan, Jedinak, O'Keefe (Ambrose 54), Scannell (Martin 72), Zaha, Murray (Easter 72)

Away Team: Schmeichel, Moore, Tunchev (Dyer 46), Mills, Kennedy, Bamba , King, Danns, Abe, Nugent (Howard 75 ), Schlupp (Beckford 76)



  • Three vital points. It was about time Nigel Pearson's Leicester City earned a victory and to do so away to Crystal Palace is a good victory too. This was a performance that marked everything good about the Foxes - doggedness, determination, class and style were abundant for long spells - but there were plenty of negatives to ponder, too. As far as this performance goes, it was representative of the Foxes' season as a whole and could be crucial to the eventual outcome of this campaign.
  • 10th could be 14th. So congested is the nPower Championship that this win lifts the Foxes to 10th and within four points of sixth. After the final whistle blows on the 3 o'clock games, however, Leicester could find themselves languishing down in 14th position. It's tight, it's tough - but it could still go in favour of the Foxes.



Winners
Nigel Pearson
The change in tactics to play five at the back - and the introduction of new faces to the City XI - is a credit to the manager. His guts to introduce the untested wing-back system from the off, with the untried faces of Tom Kennedy and Liam Moore, shows that Pearson is not going to allow the big names at the football club to cloud his judgement. He was right to change to the more practised 4-4-2, too, taking the relatively poor Aleksandar Tunchev out of the team and giving Palace something else to ponder in the form of Lloyd Dyer.

Liam Moore
In being selected for today's game, Moore had a heavy weight on his shoulders. If he had performed badly, criticism would not only have been levelled at him but blame also laid at the manager's door. Moore did not disappoint, however, and despite Lee Peltier's form (he was dropped today through tiredness that had become apparent in the last two games) the former Huddersfield man may feel under pressure from the young upstart, whose only previous experience in league football was on a loan spell at Bradford City earlier this season. This was as sounder d├ębut performance as you are ever likely to see from a youngster. Promising indeed.

Tom Kennedy
Like Moore, Kennedy was a surprise inclusion in Pearson's mixed-up team selection and, like Moore, he quietly impressed. His loan spell at Peterborough only ended on Saturday and it seems he did well enough at London Road to warrant inclusion in the Foxes' side to face the Eagles. Kennedy's performance was assured and confident, providing a steady presence at left back. He showed today that he is more than capable of providing cover - if not a challenge - for Paul Konchesky's usual position.

Neil Danns
An emphatic return to his former club and a goal to boot. Neil Danns did everything that Richie Wellens has failed to do so far this season, and did it well.

Andy King
A more defensive role in the first half against Palace seemed to suit Andy King who, whilst not dazzling with emphatic technical wizardry, did his job diligently.

Kasper Schmeichel
Cool under late pressure, Kasper Schmeichel pulled-off some crucial saves to help the Foxes to a narrow, critical, away victory.



Losers
Aleksandar Tunchev
Likeable Bulgarian Aleksandar Tunchev has had a torrid two years of injury and today's start was his first for Leicester City since he returned to league football with a loan spell at Selhurst Park earlier in the season. It was not a happy return for Tunch, however, with his lack of sharpness sadly evident despite his obvious talent. He has come through far bigger setbacks than a disappointing 45 minutes on a cold January afternoon, however, and it is likely he will be seen more in Foxes' blue following the transfer listing of fellow centre half Sean St Ledger.

Steve Howard
Petulant and stupid, Steve Howard's late red card reduced the Foxes to ten men when they needed bodies on the pitch to defend an onslaught from Crystal Palace. He was bought on in the second half to consolidate the Foxes' defence, his height and presence useful in the box as well as to hold-up the ball farther forward. The outburst that saw him sent off was uncalled for and unnecessary and will badly damage any ambition he has to return to Leicester City's first team.

Richie Wellens
His omission was applauded by many who have become frustrated with Wellens' negativity and lacklustre displays. Although he had shown an improvement over the Christmas period, the ex-Doncaster man has clearly not shown enough to keep his place in Pearson's side and, with Danns' solid performance here, is unlikely to return soon.
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