An injury hit season has seen Bakary Sako out for entire months at a time, December and February a notably baron spell where the midfielder was completely absent from the matchday squad.
However, substitute appearances in all three of Palace’s games this month have shown glimmers of the powerful and pacey winger Pardew signed from Wolves last year, and Sako is looking forward to the challenge of facing the league toppers this weekend.
“It’s a big game and we’re going to have to be at more than 100% if we’re going to win. They are going to give everything and not going to give us anything, but the pressure is all on them. We haven’t got any pressure - we have nothing to lose and they’re playing for the title.”
Leicester’s fight to avoid relegation last season now seems like a distant memory, and if the Eagles can get a result against the Foxes, Sako believes it will spur an upturn in the south London club’s fortunes.
“Nobody expected Leicester to be where they are but they deserve it. You can’t target one strength because the whole team are their strength, every game they’re scoring and they don’t concede a lot of goals. For us, things at the moment aren’t going our way and we feel we’ve had a lot of decisions go against us and we’ve made bad decisions in games. We’ve gone three months without a win and we need to get one as soon as possible so we can be safe.”
Winning 1-0 at Reading last Friday booked Palace’s place in the FA Cup semi-final, and having already beaten three Premier League teams, including Tottenham currently sitting in second, to get there, Sako says the mood at the training ground this week has been one full of confidence.
“The atmosphere has been really good and there’s been a lot of enthusiasm from the staff and players. In training we’ve been working on our intensity to make sure we are as fit as possible and we’re playing with confidence. Hopefully we can show that in the game Saturday and enjoy ourselves and express ourselves. We just need our form in the league to get going so we can start looking up the table and see where it takes us.”