Preview: Leeds United vs. Crystal Palace

Preview: Leeds United vs. Crystal Palace

Two relegation-threatened outfits separated by just one place and one point in the Premier League table lock horns at Elland Road on Sunday, as Leeds United play host to Crystal Palace.

The Whites enter this bottom-half scrap on the back of a priceless 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, while Roy Hodgson’s second stint in the Palace dugout began with a dramatic win over Leicester City by the same scoreline.

Having given Arsenal a good run for their money during the earliest exchanges of their Emirates clash before being blown away by the league leaders, Leeds were indebted to their wing kings for sparking a creditable fightback during the visit of Forest on Tuesday evening.

A tidy finish from Orel Mangala broke the deadlock for the Tricky Trees with just 12 minutes on the clock, but the turnaround was complete before half time, as Jack Harrison latched onto a rebound from Marc Roca’s saved attempt before Luis Sinisterra expertly picked out the far corner.

With just one defeat to show from their last four Premier League battles under the tutelage of Javi Gracia, Leeds are one of the best in the bunch in the nine-team relegation dogfight, occupying 13th place in the table but just two points better off than Bournemouth in 18th spot.

There will be no pina coladas on the Yorkshire beaches for another few weeks yet, as a couple of dissatisfactory results could plunge the Whites straight back into demotion danger, but a three-game Premier League unbeaten run at Elland Road is a reassuring statistic for the home faithful.

Only Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Fulham have actually beaten the Whites on their own turf this term, and Gracia’s side have come up with an eye-catching nine goals in their last four Premier League matches, but Palace could have matched that tally in just one game against a beleaguered Leicester.

In a game that marked the return of Hodgson and the departure of his opposite number Brendan Rodgers, Palace would seemingly be left to rue a glut of wasted opportunities against Leicester, who survived a relentless first-half offensive to draw first blood through Ricardo Pereira.

By that point, Palace had lost a tearful Wilfried Zaha to injury, but the Eagles restored parity just three minutes after Pereira’s opener – Eberechi Eze’s free kick struck the bar before bouncing in off the unfortunate Daniel Iversen – before Jean-Philippe Mateta fired home the winner with virtually the last kick of the game.

A first three points of the year was just reward for the 31 shots that Palace conjured up on the afternoon, as Hodgson snapped the Eagles’ 13-game winless run in all competitions to keep the London outfit 12th in the Premier League table, just one point better off than their upcoming opponents.

Prior to Mateta’s telling strike at Selhurst Park, Palace had suffered four successive Premier League defeats under Patrick Vieira with just one goal to show for their efforts, and next on Hodgson’s tick list is ending a grisly away run, during which the Eagles have lost five and drawn one on rival turf since putting Bournemouth to the sword on New Year’s Eve.

Palace sent Leeds home with their tails between their legs thanks to a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park earlier this term, but the Whites have strung together a seven-game triumphant run at Elland Road against the Eagles, who have not come up trumps on the Yorkshire turf since Jobi McAnuff’s winner in 2006.

Leeds United Premier League form:

Leeds United form (all competitions):

Crystal Palace Premier League form:

We say: Leeds United 2-2 Crystal Palace
Even after Zaha had trudged off the field, the Palace frontline still peppered Leicester’s weary defence with a barrage of shots, and a Leeds backline that are far from watertight should prepare for similar treatment against Hodgson’s crop here.

However, the Whites have not lost to a bottom-half team at home all season and should not break that streak in a contest with so much on the line – especially with their recent affinity for goals – so an entertaining stalemate could be on the cards here.

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