Leicester 0-1 Palace
Alan Pardew maintained his 100 % away record with Crystal Palace as his team came away from the King Power Stadium with an invaluable 1-0 victory. A second half Joe Ledley header settled the match but the 0-1 score line was unreflective of the match.
Leicester struck the woodwork, came up against an inspired Julian Speroni and missed a host of half chances. At the other end, Palace were extremely wasteful on the counter, none more so than Yaya Sanogo in stoppage time when he took the ball from Wilfried Zaha's toes to fire over, when the winger looked better place to shoot.
Arguably the biggest talking point of the match came when Foxes manager Nigel Pearson appeared to pin James McArthur to the floor by his throat after an accidental collision. On Match of the Day Pearson simply said "I can look after myself" in a very bizarre response to being asked about the incident. Undoubtedly the FA will be knocking on the Leicester gaffers door come Monday morning.
As for the consequences of this result for both clubs. Palace now sit 9 points clear of bottom place Leicester and 6 points clear of the relegation zone. Leicester are losing teams that they could legitimately overtake by the end of the season by the week as the Eagles fly towards safety yet again.
Super Al had his first slip up last week when he opted to bring on a clearly unfit Jordon Mutch in the first half for the injured Marouane Chamakh. This was the first time that an Alan Pardew substitution had not had a positive impact on the match. There was no such slip up yesterday and normal service resumed as Pardew took to his bench at half time to stem the Leicester City shaped first half tide and oversee Palace's fourth away victory on the bounce.
Managers before Pardew have tried to play Dwight Gayle through the middle away from home and it has taken them a fair few games to realise that he simply does not fit our style as a lone striker. It took Pardew just 45 minutes to realise.
Obviously Pardew is attempting to change our style of football, however, the fact is that we are still pumping many long balls into the lone striker. Gayle with his back to goal with someone the size of Wes Morgan breathing down his neck is never going to end well for us. We send the ball forward and it would come straight back.
"Having Mutch in behind Gayle also didn't work."
Having Mutch in behind Gayle also didn't work. Chamakh plays that role so well as he can mix it physically with the big guys and often has a fantastic touch when under pressure with his back to goal. Mutch is more the kind of player who you need to play the ball through along the ground, not in the air. As a result he was largely ineffective as well.
We can't give Pardew credit for the Hangeland substitution as Scott Dann was clearly in a bad way after his collision with Morgan. It must be said, however, that the big Norwegian had a quite brilliant second half. We can give Pardew credit for the Sanogo for Mutch substitution as it changed the flow of the match and meant that we were now in the game on the counter.
Sanogo gave us a presence in the final third and battled well with Morgan, none more so than in the build up to the corner that led to the goal. He showed great strength to win the aerial battle with Morgan before driving towards goal. His shot was blocked for a corner and yes he should have slotted Gayle through on goal instead but it was his directness that caused the problem. Hangeland then nodded the resulting corner back across goal and finding Ledley who head in via the crossbar.
James McArthur vs Nigel Pearson
"(The) situation with me and Nigel Pearson is getting blown out of proportion" tweeted James McArthur after the game, so should we even be discussing this any further? Pearson's reaction after the game convinces that we should be and that Pearson should be heading towards a hefty ban, fine or both.
Whilst I am advocating the FA to take this route, weirdly I disagree with what I am saying. Just like the Pardew "headbutt" last season, these things do get "blown out of proportion" as McArthur puts it. Pardew didn't "headbutt" Meyler. He put his head against his head with no intention of hurting the player. In this instance, Pearson isn't putting any true weight behind his hand on McArthur's throat and by the look on Pearson's face they do appear to be having "banter" for want of a better word.
"The reason why I say the FA need to 'throw the book at him' is because precedents have been set."
The reason why I say the FA need to 'throw the book at him' is because precedents have been set, with incidents such as the Pardew "headbutt" and Pearson's response after the match shows absolutely no remorse. He found it all very funny and was acting like that dickhead from the pub that thinks he is a hard nut. "I can look after myself" he said as he sat back in his chair. This wasn't a fight you bellend. It was an accidental collision that you turned into something by jumping on top of a man that was defenceless on the ground. Sounds less 'looking after yourself' and more 'bully' to me.
If Pearson comes out and says, just like McArthur, it's all being blown out of proportion then I am comfortable to let it go. To come and out and puff his chest out makes me want to see the FA punish him.
What actually annoys me most about the situation is not Pearson pinning McArthur down by the throat but preventing McArthur from entering the field of play. Do not forget that the match was still going on and Leicester were on the attack and we were a man short in attempting to defend it because Pearson was obstructing McArthur. If Leicester score on that attack, we'd probably all want to kill Pearson right about now.
What is clear is that NIgel Pearson is a man under pressure and he is unravveling by the second.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
A truly superb performance from the winger. Not just in an attacking sense, but defensively as well. All game long he tracked back and put in some vital challenges and blocks and really stifled Leicester right side. Early in the first half he made Danny Simpson literally sit down with an outrageous piece of skill and on the counter he looked extremely dangerous and better decision from his teammates would have seen him get on the scoresheet for sure.
I cannot finish this section without mentioning three other players. Julian Speroni made two super saves, notably late on from Luke Vardy to secure the points. James McArthur was his usual brilliant self, covering every blade of grass and accounting for one interception and one block that prevented certain goals. Finally, Brede Hangeland absolutely dominated at the back when he replaced the injured Dann. The game completely suited his ageing legs, with everything in front of him as Palace employed a deep line, but he executed everything in imperious fashion and was a very key cog in our away day victory machine.
I thought the Leicester fans started really well but fell away and became very tense and agitated. Speaking to people who watched the game on TV I was constantly told that we were lucky to win the game. In the stadium, I never felt like Leicester were going to score despite their chances. They stunk of a lack of confidence, from the players to the fans, and did not seem to believe that they were ever going to get the breakthrough. I've seen us relegated from this league enough times to know when I am watching a team that is down and out. Sadly for Leicester, I was watching such a team yesterday.
We have slowly but surely been getting back to our best in the stands. Still some way to go to reach last season's levels but this was certainly a solid effort which many Leicester fans seemed to appreciate with a whole host of youtube videos springing up overnight of our fans in action.
Up Next: Newcastle United
The big one for Pards. He'll play it down pre match but I bet he would love to turn them over. It would also be nice to grab a win at home so all the fans that can't get to away games can join in with the fun.
If we can secure the win on Wednesday, we are not very far from safety!
Come on you Palace.