Half-time reading. If Palace hold onto this, it would be a crucial win. Because earlier on today, down near the bottom, this happened …
… and even earlier there was this!
HALF TIME: Leicester City 0-1 Crystal Palace
There’s just enough time for Leicester to win a corner down the right, and for Maguire to send a poor header over the bar. And that’s the half-time whistle. It’s been all Leicester, though they’ve not seriously worked Guaita. Palace had one attempt, and they’ve scored from it. That’s the unpredictable nature of football, and why we both love and hate it in equal measure! Schmeichel accompanies the ref down the tunnel, ranting and raving.
44 min: Tielemans tries to whip one into the bottom left from 25 yards. It’s not a bad effort but always going wide, and Guaita calmly watches it sail by.
42 min: Schmeichel races after the referee, livid at the award of a free kick for Zaha in the centre circle, the move for the goal having started from there. Or maybe he’s angry at the non-award of a penalty. Either way, the ref’s not interested at all.
GOAL! Leicester City 0-1 Crystal Palace (Batshuayi 41)
It’s been all Leicester, so this had to happen. Milivojevic, to the left of the centre circle, fires a pass forward to McArthur, 25 yards out, level with the right-hand post. McArthur shoots to the left. The ball passes Batshuayi, who sticks out a leg and diverts it towards the bottom right … and it’s in, past a wrong-footed Schmeichel!
40 min: Barnes dribbles into the Palace box from the left. He goes over near Tomkins, and claims a penalty. But there’s nothing doing; the defender got the ball.
39 min: Tielemans, Pereira and the ever-busy Maddison nearly open up Palace down the right with some very intricate close passing. But then Tielemans clumsily clips the back of van Aanholt, and Palace are let off the hook.
38 min: Tielemans crosses from a deep position on the left. It’s deflected, and nearly finds Ghezzal clear, breaking down the channel. But Ghezzal opts to settle for the corner instead. The set piece is fizzed in low, and headed away very bravely by Tomkins.
36 min: Palace have been fouling for fun since the get-go, but it’s a Leicester player who goes in the book first. Ndidi clips Schlupp from behind, and that’s a yellow card. On the touchline, Puel debates this with the fourth official in the passionate continental style.
34 min: Maddison’s free kick, aimed for the top left, clips the Palace wall and twangs into the arms of Guaita. Leicester are soon coming again, Tielemans slipping a ball down the inside-left channel for Maddison, whose shot from a tight angle is straight at the keeper.
32 min: Leicester pin Palace back in their own area. Quite a bit of pinball in the box. Palace just about get away with it, but then Milivojevic clips Maddison to the ground, and this is a very dangerous free kick just to the left of the D.
30 min: Townsend brings down Maddison, 30 yards from goal on the left. Leicester load the box, but the delivery is poor and easily cleared. Tielemans tries to retrieve the ball, but is do-si-do’d out of play by Zaha. It’s an ersatz version of Ramos-Salah, and Tielemans ends up on his knees on the pitch border. No foul, for some reason.
28 min: Well, Palace have done very little so far, but they should have caused Leicester some serious trouble here. Batshuayi drives at the Leicester back line. He reaches the edge of the box, and has Zaha totally free to his left, but the attempted pass clanks into Evans and the hosts can clear. That’s an appalling effort, a great opportunity wasted, and you can understand Zaha’s theatrical frustration.
27 min: Fuchs floats a pass down the inside-left channel and nearly releases Vardy. Just a little too much air on that. Guaita gathers.
25 min: The home crowd are getting a little agitated. Ghezzal accidentally plays a simple pass ten yards behind the nearby Pereira. No harm done, but the Leicester faithful don’t seem in the mood to cut Claude Puel’s team some slack, and deliver pelters accordingly.
23 min: Ndidi decides to have a shy at goal from the best part of 30 yards. That’s no good at all. Full marks for ambition, I suppose.
19 min: Barnes spins 30 yards from goal and sends a bobbling bouncer towards the bottom right. Guaita claims it easily enough, there wasn’t a whole lot of power in that. But if Leicester keep on shooting at this healthy rate – that’s six attempts already – someone’s going to catch one at some point.
18 min: Vardy goes blazing down the left wing. He’s roughed up a little in full flight by Ward, and Tielemans claims a free kick for his team-mate, but the ref’s not interested at all.
16 min: There’s not a whole lot going on right now. Time to wheel out a stat, they’re always good when you have nothing of note to say: Leicester are enjoying the bulk of the possession, with 65% of the ball.
14 min: A corner for Palace out on the right. Milivojevic has two goes at beating the first man, and fails both times. Leicester tear upfield on the break, and Tielemans is stopped from dribbling down the left by Zaha, who leaves his studs on his opponent’s shin. That’s a really poor challenge, and if the referee had seen it, he could
12 min: Tielemans is a very tidy player indeed. He skitters in from the left, exchanges passes with Barnes, and tries to curl one into the top right. There’s not quite enough oomph in the effort, and it’s an easy claim from Guaita. Leicester are beginning to ask questions.
10 min: Vardy’s in the mood now. He busies himself down the inside-left channel and cuts back for Maddison, who looks to send a powerful curler into the top right. It’s a decent effort, but flicks off Sakho’s shoulder and out for a corner. Maddison claims half-heartedly for a penalty, but there’s no way. And nothing comes of the set piece.
9 min: Good work by Barnes out on the left. He scoops a cross into the box for Vardy, who wins a header but can only flash it over the bar.
6 min: Zaha cuts in from the left and slips a pass to McArthur, who tries to release van Aanholt with a cute pass down the channel. But the Palace full-back has wandered a mile offside, and a promising position on the edge of the Leicester box is wasted.
5 min: It’s a little bit hectic and scrappy. Passing moves at a premium in these early stages.
3 min: Maddison and Tielemans nearly balls it up, the former tapping to the latter, who dilly-dallies and nearly gets closed down. But Tielemans gets a shot away just in time. Despite a big deflection, Guaita isn’t going to be troubled by that, and he gathers easily enough.
2 min: Now Leicester take a turn at knocking it around. Schlupp gets fed up and clatters Maddison to the floor. This’ll be a free kick in a central position, 35 yards from the Palace goal.
Here we go, then! Palace get the match started, and stroke it about the back awhile. Then Zaha goes off on a run down the left. He goes nowhere, but don’t worry, it won’t be his last of the evening.
The teams are out! Leicester wear their famous blue shirts, with black armbands today in memory of Gordon Banks. Palace are in their change strip of white with Team-of-the-Eighties retro sash. Before kick-off, there’s a minute of the warmest applause, as the King Power pays its respects to the life and stellar achievements of one of football’s true greats. We’ll be off in a minute.
How does Roy Hodgson feel about becoming the oldest manager in Premier League history? “I am proud of my career and journey, though I don’t know there’s too much to be proud of in just becoming old enough to be given that title! But I’m still glad to be here, that’s the most important thing, and I’m really satisfied with the career football has given me. I’m also very happy that I’m here to be enjoying it to this day. It’s nice to be recognised in the company of such great men as Bobby Robson and Alex Ferguson, so it’s a good day in that respect, though it’ll only be a really good day if we get a result today.”
His opposite number Claude Puel adds: “Roy has a fantastic record. I do not think I will rival him! But I offer him a lot of congratulation, he is a fantastic man and manager. I just hope he cannot have good luck today!
It’ll be an emotional day for Leicester, as they get a chance to say farewell to their legendary keeper Gordon Banks, who passed away earlier this month. The 1966 World Cup winner played 356 times for the Foxes between 1959 and 1967, winning the 1964 League Cup and turning out in the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup finals. He also very nearly won the league title while at Filbert Street, as part of the ill-fated Ice Kings side of 1962-63. Anyone unfamiliar with that particular bittersweet tale should click below now.
Leicester make two changes to the XI named for the 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago. Jamie Vardy replaces Demarai Gray, who drops to the bench, while Christian Fuchs comes in for the injured Ben Chilwell.
Palace make five changes to the side that brushed past Doncaster Rovers in the fifth round of the FA Cup last weekend. Vincente Guaita, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho, James McArthur and Wilfried Zaha replace Wayne Hennessey, Scott Dann, Martin Kelly, Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew. All of them drop to the bench, bar Kelly who is injured.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Fuchs, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Ghezzal, Vardy, Barnes.
Subs: Soyuncu, Morgan, Gray, Iheanacho, Ward, Okazaki, Mendy.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha.
Subs: Dann, Meyer, Kouyate, Hennessey, Ayew, Benteke, Riedewald.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).
It’s a historic day in Leicester. Not quite up there with the discovery of the remains of Richard III, perhaps, but notable enough, as Roy I becomes the oldest man ever to manage a team in the Premier League.
Hodgson is 71 years and 199 days young today. That means the Crystal Palace boss sashays past the legendary Sir Bobby Robson, who was 71 years and 191 days old when he took charge of his final game for Newcastle United. So hats off to King Roy.
There’s a fair chance he’ll be celebrating a win tonight, too. That’s because Leicester are on a dismal run, having taken just one point from the last 15 available. And they’ve lost their last three matches against Palace, shipping nine goals while failing to score themselves.
Claude Puel, never popular at the King Power, could do with three points this afternoon to stem the bleeding. Palace need the win to keep them insulated from relegation worries. A tense tussle awaits us. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm BST.