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Who needs the FA Cup more?

50-50 Challenge
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 By Jim Daly

Crystal Palace luck must change soon in scrap for survival

There was a depressing inevitability about Leicester's 1-0 win against Crystal Palace once Saturday's match kicked off.

It soon became clear how the match was going to be played. The Eagles would have lots of possession but struggle to break down a solid away side, who would look to hit the hosts on the counterattack.

This is exactly what happened, and in the end the league leaders came away with a hard-fought win. Did they deserve it? Arguably not. Did Palace do enough to get something out of the game? Probably. But that's the way the luck has been going this season. Leicester have had more than their fair share, the Eagles haven't.

Damien Delaney smashed the ball against the crossbar from close range with the last kick of the game. Any other day, against any other team and that flies in, but this is Leicester and this is Palace. It was always going to bounce out and away for a goal kick.

The Foxes played exactly as everyone expected them to, and their goal came from their two danger men as Jamie Vardy squared to Riyad Mahrez, who poked home. It was too simple. Leicester looked like they could score each time they ploughed forward. Palace looked like they'd struggle to create any decent opportunities.

That's now six straight home defeats in the league and the Eagles continue to tumble down the division. They're now as low as 16th and just eight points above the drop zone.

Their luck needs to change soon. Very soon.

Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace
Leicester CityLeicester City
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1
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Game Details

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Wayne Hennessey, 7 -- Gets criticised a lot when things go wrong but rarely praised for solid performances. Did his job against Leicester, including a smart one-on-one save from Mahrez.

DF Joel Ward, 5 -- Arguably should have closed Vardy down quicker for the cross that led to the game's only goal and was made to look rather average by Marc Albrighton. Is having a tough time of it at the moment.

DF Pape Souare, 4 -- Really struggling for form and had a nightmare against Mahrez, which can be forgiven when you consider the Leicester man will probably win Player of the Year this season. Replaced by Martin Kelly at half time.

DF Scott Dann, 7 -- Won a lot of headers against Vardy and didn't give the striker a lot to play with. Looked to carry the ball out of defence rather than just loft it forward at times, which was a rare but beautiful sight.

DF Damien Delaney, 6 -- Had his customary handful of last-ditch blocks in the box but found Shinji Okazaki's pace and low centre of gravity difficult to deal with. Incredibly unlucky not to score right at the end.

MF Mile Jedinak, 7 -- Continues to impress in the middle of the park and had another decent game. Thrives when he keeps things simple despite his ageing legs.

MF Joe Ledley, 6 -- Not a vintage performance from the Welshman but he might argue he was played out of position for most of the game in left midfield. Replaced by Dwight Gayle late on.

MF Yohan Cabaye, 7 -- Plenty of bite and invention in the middle of the park. Was the only Palace player able to get the ball down and play but still can't dominate games like he did in the first half of the season.

MF Wilfried Zaha, 5 -- Targeted with some robust tackles and again not protected by the referee but never looked a threat.

MF Yannick Bolasie, 6 -- Looked more comfortable out wide than through the middle and put over a couple of dangerous crosses. Always works hard for the team but nothing came off for him.

FW Emmanuel Adebayor, 4 -- Didn't look bothered at all and most fans only noticed he was playing when he was replaced by Bakary Sako at half time.

Substitutes:

DF Martin Kelly, 6 -- Must fans wonder how he can't get a regular game with both full-backs struggling. Was solid if unspectacular in the second half.

MF Bakary Sako, 7 -- Palace's best player after the break, putting in some inviting crosses and firing off a few thunderbolts that stung Kasper Schmeichel's palms.

FW Dwight Gayle, N/R -- A late cameo but barely touched the ball.

Jim Daly is a freelance football writer and founder of Palace fanzine Five Year Plan. You can follow him on Twitter @jimdalycomedy.

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