Leicester City vs Crystal Palace reaction: Foxes need more bite to survive relegation scrap

Leicester City 0-1 Crystal Palace

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The Independent Football

With so many of Leicester City’s players cutting their teeth in the Premier League, should it come as any surprise that Nigel Pearson's men repeatedly lack the bite required to put teams to bed?

In a tale as predictable as the one which unfolded during the loss to Stoke City last month, or the defeat at Aston Villa in December, or the retreat to Newcastle United in October, the Foxes again squandered a host of opportunities on their way to losing.

Despite throwing everything at Crystal Palace, now 9 points above them with fourteen games remaining, a strike force consisting of David Nugent and £8m summer signing Leonardo Ulloa failed to find a way through.

Nugent, one of just four starters in City’s line up with Premier League experience before this campaign, even rattled the bar before conspiring with Esteban Cambiasso to miss a guilt-edged chance in the second period.

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David Nugent struggles for room against Crystal Palace

Seizing on a stray back pass, the former England striker rounded Julian Speroni before teeing up the 34-year-old Argentine but the chance withered after Cambiasso elected to pass instead of shoot.

The frenetic endeavour on show, when coupled with their subsequent indecision in front of goal, neatly summed up Leicester’s season so far.

While the achievements of last year, a campaign which saw the Foxes lift the Championship title with 102 points, will not (and should not) be forgotten in a hurry, survival now seems beyond Pearson’s grasp.

This is a man who staved off a seemingly inevitable relegation with Carlisle United in 1999 before rescuing Southampton from the drop down to League One in 2008.

Despite those ultimately successful relegation scraps involving less time, points and money; this defeat to Alan Pardew's Eagles felt like the final nail for some City supporters.

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Nigel Pearson and Alan Pardew watch on

Among the flickering flashes of hope, like embarrassing Manchester United 5-3 in September or coming back to beat Tottenham in the FA Cup fourth round, also lie countless cases of questionable decision making - both on and off the pitch.

The true success of those choices, however, will only be revealed once Leicester's divisional status for next season is settled.

Despite Ulloa’s explosive introduction to top flight football back in August, the 28-year-old has scored just 7 Premier League goals this season, while parting with £9.5m for Andrej Kramarić is a gamble which could go either way.

Meanwhile, the stuttering form of Paul Konchesky, occasionally decent but often exposed at this level, has left fans crying out for cover at left-back. None arrived.

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Nigel Pearson had lead Leicester to title wins in both the Championship and League One

Pearson’s faith in his title-winning troops, despite being somewhat understandable after the scintillating football played last year, could be City’s downfall this season.

The likes of Richie De Laet, captain Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy have failed to replicate the form of last year.

The warning signs were there, but Leicester’s encouraging start to the campaign meant they were hurriedly swept under the carpet until the summer transfer market was slammed shut.

By the time Pearson’s men had gone eleven games without a win, losing ten of them, the damage had already been done. Then, amid a patch of decent form in January, the lack of wholesale changes were made more justifiable by an away draw at Liverpool and victories over Hull City and Aston Villa.

Mark Schwarzer and Robert Huth, both vastly experienced professionals, were steps in the right direction but radio phone-ins and internet forums have been awash with fans branding the winter transfer window a failure.

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Andrej Kramarić is still finding his feet in English football

And now Leicester must manoeuvre their way through a treacherous run of fixtures which include away trips to Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton and Spurs.

In his post-match press conference, Pearson insisted this defeat isn’t necessarily a ‘defining moment’ for his side.

“What has cost us today is our inability to convert the chances that we have created,” he said.

“For the most part they have not caused us too many problems. We have defended well as a team for the most part of the game and conceded from the second phase of a corner, which is very frustrating.

"But we still have enough chances to get something out the game after that.

 

“In all honesty, the big issue we have at the moment is our inability to take our chances. That is the ultimate difference between the Championship and the Premier League."

The former Southampton and Hull boss is clearly aware that the media may now consider Leicester to be dead in the water but Pearson has faced adversity at the King Power Stadium before.

Just like on that occasion, following defeat to Watford in the Championship play-offs two years ago, expect Pearson to come out fighting.

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