Next up at Selhurst Park is an in form Leicester City side so we took the opportunity to catch up with the guys at First 4 LCFC to find out about their season so far, thoughts on the game and much more.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season, now that the dust has settled?
Quite frankly, last season was easily forgettable from a point of view of what happened on the pitch for Leicester. A disappointing 9th place finish which started under the stewardship of Claude Puel – who for many will be as equally as forgettable. However, ending the season under Brendan Rodgers was a refreshing change and one that has led us into this season a different side.
Ultimately, last season will be remembered for the devastatingly tragic loss of our late, great Chairman Khun Vichai. The legacy he has left at the club will live on and he will forever be remembered as the man who started us on this incredible journey. With plenty more to come, all Foxes fans hope.
Q. How has the season been so far for you?
It’s been a fantastic start to the season. You’ll
struggle to find any fans that have need to complain. Brendan Rodgers has got
us playing a style of football that we love, with a group of players that
In our Championship season we shocked teams by our style of play which was attacking but ultimately executed on the counter-attack. The way I see this year is like a much upgraded v2. We are controlling games, and acting clinical in front of goal.
Q. What effect has the appointment of Brendan Rodgers had on the club?
I’ve probably answered this in the previous couple of questions, but I’ll underline just how refreshing his presence at the club has been.
It could be argued that he is the greatest British manager in a job at present and we are lucky enough to have him leading our club. Typically, we weren’t a team that was used to dominating possession, but under Rodgers we have really improved in this area and in the majority of our games have come out on top in this statistic.
Generally speaking, it’s the feel around the club that is very positive, and you can see that reflecting on the pitch. Jamie Vardy is the league’s top scorer (this season) but also since Rodgers took charge which is probably a key statistic that has stood out as Vardy is not getting any younger (but is showing no signs of slowing).
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club? Were all needs addressed?
It was an understated summer I feel, at least in the eyes of other clubs. We did minimal business but secured the permanent signing of Youri Tielemans (£40million) and that was a major coup. Having seen off the reported competition of ‘bigger clubs’ I feel this was a real statement before the season had even started.
Our other notable signing was Ayoze Perez (£30million) from Newcastle United. In all honesty, he’s been slow to really make an impact, but then netted that hat-trick in our 0-9 versus Southampton which will hopefully kickstart his season.
Q. Has losing Harry McGuire had much of an effect, other than having plenty of money in the back pocket?
No. I say this without wanting to sound flippant. The truth is that the absence of Maguire has padded out our bank balance with one £80million lump sum payment, whilst also paving the way for Caglar Soyuncu to absolutely immerse himself as a key player at the back for us.
We signed Soyuncu the previous summer from Freiburg for an estimated £19million. Not only is he 23, three years Maguire’s junior, but he also has all the traits of a top centre-back in the making, including pace which Maguire lacks.
Q. One to watch for Leicester this season?
Our flying right-back Ricardo. I feel he is a player that many won’t know about and will often overlook. Mark my words he is an impressive player with stats that place him up amongst the elite in Europe.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
We discussed this in our latest podcast, and we ultimately had two answers.
A player I wanted us to sign in the summer was Gary Cahill. Fantastic professional with the right experience at this level to be a key addition to our dressing room (even if not a Premier League starter).
However, the answer you probably expected is Wilfried Zaha. No doubt a quality player, but with the price tag stuck on him by your lot I think that will be enough to act as a deterrent as we tend to do shrewder bits of business. But without a doubt he would be the closest to a Riyad Mahrez player we have had since he left. The lad can turn a game single-handedly, I daren’t even think about him sliding into our front-line as that could be lethal! Who knows, if we qualify for the Champions League, could it happen?
Q. Which Leicester player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the game?
Jamie Vardy. Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but he has rediscovered the form that saw us fall head-over-heels for him in our Championship winning season with that eleven game streak. He only needs half a chance and it’s in the back of the net at present. His instinct and confidence is at peak.
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
Roy Hodgson is one of the most experienced managers left in the game, he knows how to set up against every team in this league. Last season you finished 12th, I see you finishing in the top ten this year. With the amount of teams struggling to find form, Palace could well be in the mix for European football by the close of the season. I see there being very few points separating 7-10th or so.
Q. Your prediction?
My prediction for the game is a 1-2 Foxes win. Our challenge will be breaking you down, so I expect a real tough challenge. To be precise I actually seeing us going 1-0 down and coming back from behind to win with a Vardy winner in the second half!