While this isn’t exactly a glamorous fixture, it is however one very important to the Premier League champions if they are to restore some respectability to their position on the table.
Sitting 13th on the table with eight points after eight games, that isn’t exactly the sort of form you would expect from a defending champion, but then you could argue that Chelsea were 16th by this time last season as defending champions, albeit with the same number of points.
What makes Leicester’s case less alarming is that nobody really expects them to win the title again this season, as last season’s triumph is seen as a one off. Even manager Claudio Ranieri has said repeatedly that the target for the season is to avoid the drop, and even if you argue that’s just media talk, deep down somewhere in him, he believes a part of it at least.
And he admits as much that their form hasn’t been the best, which he attributes to being in the Champions League for the first time.
“We are up and down, up and down. But it’s normal for a team like Leicester who are in the Champions League for the first time,” said Ranieri.
So going into today’s game, all of those come to mind: the fact that they have to arrest their slide in the league and even if they’re not going to win a second Premier League title, they should at least avoid the relegation dog fight.
And as such, they will go into the game with Palace with confidence, having beaten FC Copenhagen 1-0 in the Champions League in midweek to become the first English side to win its first three group games in the competition and they’ve achieved that without even conceding a goal.
However, it must be said that even though Leicester won both legs last season, they haven’t been the same side this term and Palace have also improved their squad. It is also pertinent to note that before the losses last term, Palace had actually beaten the Foxes in four of their previous six meetings, only losing one of those and drawing the other, so it must be said that one shouldn’t expect a one-way traffic.
And for the champions, a defeat would represent the worst start after nine games by a defending top-flight champion since 1974 when Leeds United won two, drew two and lost five, plus the fact that they have already lost one league game more than the entirety of last season.
The statistics in recent games appear good for Palace, however, as they only suffered their first defeat in six games last weekend and are unbeaten in three away games, something that must cause concern for Ranieri. One thing that would please the Foxes’ boss however is the fact that Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet in 13 straight league games.
And Palace boss Alan Pardew is aware they must make amends when they come up against the champions.
“We come off a disappointing performance against West Ham, particularly the first half where we didn’t dictate the game as I would of liked.
“I want my team to respond and we need to turn up for this one,” Pardew said in his pre-match press conference.
To achieve that, Pardew would be delighted with the possible return of defender Scott Dann, who has overcome a hamstring injury and is included in the squad. Loic Remy and Pape Souare remain long-term absentees, however.
Leicester aren’t without their own good news, the trio Wes Morgan, Andy King and Jamie Vardy are all expected to be fit despite suffering minor injuries during Tuesday’s Champions League win over Copenhagen.