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From The Stands

21 October 2015

In this week's From The Stands fan blog, Simon Mills reflects on Crystal Palace's defeat to West Ham United last Saturday and previews this weekend's opponents Leicester City - and the threat they pose.

After last week's disappointing home defeat to West Ham, we travel to Leicester for another tough fixture against a team at the top end of the table. Just like our last opponents, the Foxes have managed to recruit well during the summer (both from a managerial and playing point of view) and are on a fantastic run of form, which sees them sitting just above us in 5th.
The two biggest dangers of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are on top form, with the latter leading the scoring charts with an unbelievable nine goals in nine games. Mahrez himself can’t even compete with that record and the good news for Palace fans is that while he has provided four assists, he has ‘only’ scored five… Deep breaths now!
With one of the most impressive attacking records in the country, they must have a weakness? And they do. While their attacking play is devastating and has been the downfall of many a team – their defence is another matter entirely. Leicester may have scored in every game this season, but they have also conceded as such and in a mirror to their scoring record, they have one of the worst defensive records in the league – 17 in nine and not a clean sheet in sight.
This should offer a massive beacon of hope for Palace fans, for me we are stronger defensively than we are attacking. Of course we have the skill, pace and trickery of Zaha and Bolasie, but we have lacked a real goal scorer so far this season – the fact that Cabaye with his penalties is our leading scorer in the league (even without his one open play goal) has highlighted a weak area. So it may in fact benefit us to play a team who can attack, but apparently can’t defend – another penalty anyone?
We will, of course, be without Dwight Gayle, whose red card may be blamed for that defeat to the Hammers and it would be foolish to suggest it wasn’t the turning point. Having read some of the fans’ views I must say, however, I am rather disappointed that so many have been so quick to judge and attack a young lad who was obviously desperate to impress. It’s something he will need to learn from and I for one am confident he can come back stronger for the experience and prove he still has a lot to offer us.
Who will replace him up front could be a big question if we again find ourselves without Connor Wickham. One suspects it will come with a choice of three - Fraizer Campbell, Patrick Bamford or Yannick Bolasie - with Sako slotting in on the wing. For me, I would go with Campbell, who has had limited opportunities so far this season and just feel he offers that little bit more in that position up top than the others.

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