In the last few weeks, we’ve seen more and more calls for the manager to face a reckoning. Actually, it’s more like out and out calls for Pellegrini to be sacked. But as you know, we’re not 100% on board with that particular idea primarily because it will cost us too much.
So let’s instead focus our attention on the busy Christmas period and what we can realistically expect to gain from the matches against Palace, Leicester, and Bournemouth.
Palace – Away
This year’s Boxing Day fixture could have been a lot worse in terms of travel – it could have been away to Newcastle. Thankfully, it’s just a short trip to Selhurst Park, where we take on a Palace team who are somewhat invigorated in recent weeks.
Despite the danger Zaha poses, we still can expect to take at least a point from Palace and can realistically take home all three. We saw from the Liverpool match that Palace try to play pretty much everything through their No. 11. We can counteract this by marking him out of the game. Zaha hates being badgered by an opponent and is usually walking a tightrope with the ref as he whines and complains his way through the game. Keep Zaha quiet and we’ve pretty much nullified Palace.
Leicester – Home
The biggest challenge of the festive period will of course be the visit of Leicester, who have proven beyond all doubt that they have the goods this season. Stats and recent history tell us that Leicester are a good bet to finish in the top four. And we can only be thankful that we’re playing them at home.
Now, we’re being 100% realistic here and, the fact is that Roberto can’t be expected to fare too well against one of the league’s top strikers. We can only hope that if we stifle the midfield, Vardy will find himself bereft of opportunities. But he’s a dangerous player on the break and we can honestly envisage at least one or two one-on-one chances for him in the game. Roberto won’t stand a chance. If we take a point from this game, it will be a success.
Bournemouth – Home
The only issue we have with the Bournemouth match is that it’s the last game in a busy period and we don’t know what might happen with injuries and tired legs in the run up to the match. Having said that, it’s our second home match on the bounce and the third in London over the festive period.
Eddie Howe’s team are well organised at the back and pose a real threat through Fraser, but we should have the beating of them. A solid midfield display will put this game to bed and, with Noble hopefully back at full speed by then, we should be okay.
So what’s a success in terms of points? Nine is the obvious answer but, realistically, we can expect 4-6 points from the Christmas schedule before we settle in for the usual transfer window shenanigans.