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A performance of enormous grit, no little style and a modicum of luck saw City stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League to an implausible eight points for a least a day. With Arsenal having already won at lunchtime a positive result was vital to avoid the Gunners getting a sniff of fox tail once again and to lay down the gauntlet to others playing on Sunday. With seven games to play and 66 points in the bag it will be interesting to see how many points the eventual champions finish with. City’s least productive run of seven games this season (matches 3-9) saw a haul of ten points so even a replication of their very worst form will require one of the chasing pack to storm home to overhaul them.
Leicester City “seven game” form – season 2015/16
1 x 10 points
6 x 12 points
6 x 14 points
1 x 15 points
6 x 16 points
2 x 17 points
2 x 19 points
Average points per seven games = 14.44
To Crystal Palace, more robust and physical than any recent opponent, but they were matched by the battling blues throughout, with the moments of quality in the game coming from the league leaders. With talented wide men Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako to call on, Palace were always going to provide a threat to a City side often content to concede crosses into the box and back themselves to clear the danger from within rather the prevent the delivery at source. And so it proved as the home side delivered 31 crosses, many into dangerous areas with great quality. Luckily Palace have put their faith, at least for the first half, in Emmanuel Adebayor, a man with the hunger of a golden ticket holder at the end of a tour of Willy Wonka’s place of business.
The Eagles were keen to play though and this help Leicester show flashes of their much vaunted counter-attacking football with Riyad Mahrez fluffing his lines when clean through early on. In between the combat City produced some neat passing and always looked able to get in behind the home rearguard with some neat triangles. The move that brought the goal was all about the man of the moment Danny Drinkwater. Exchanging one-twos across the backline, he searched for the ideal opportunity to launch an attack. His option from our angle looked misguided but how wrong we were as it expertly found Marc Albrighton’s run. Moving the Foxes further up the pitch has been Drinkwater’s forte this season and by the time the ball was cleared from the box he was on hand to sweep it first time to Vardy on the left. Off came the handbrake as England’s number 9 (who came off later with what looked suspiciously like a two week niggle) eased past Scott Dann and fizzed it across the area for partner in crime Mahrez to arrive late and fire home.
A double change for Palace at half time included the introduction of the impressive Sako but his efforts were to avail as Wes Morgan, Robert Huth et al resisted stubbornly. As the game ran deep, City remained a threat with Vardy unlucky having ghosted through the defence in trademark style, his shot deflecting behind for a corner. The greatest sigh of relief was saved for injury time as former Fox Damien Delaney hit the top of the crossbar with a volley.
After the final whistle the bulk of the City fans remained in the ground well past 5 o’clock with a 15 minute rendition of “we’re gonna win the league” interrupted only by the stadium tannoy. Clear that this was going to be a request to leave the ground the Foxes contingent launched seamlessly into “we shall not be moved” drowning out the hapless announcer. This wasn’t a premature title celebration. What this bizarre happening struck me as was a group of people who subconsciously realised they were not to see their beloved team in action for another 15 days and wanted to milk every last drop of the experience. There were handfuls of corporate box dwellers staring at us throughout this with a suspected mixture of awe, confusion and admiration. Some even joined in and part of me hopes that they weren’t undercover City fans. The City heroes were generously applauded from the field in the opposite corner to us by two stands of remaining home supporters.
Modern football is bonkers. And long may it continue.
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