By SkySports/Evelyne Wareh
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes Leicester are right to focus on the Champions League this season but is still expecting a tough test at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Claudio Ranieri’s side have started the new season with mixed fortunes and have managed to win just twice in the Premier League since the start of the campaign.
However, the Foxes have fared considerably better in the Champions League, having won all three of their Group G matches.
Pardew believes Leicester’s dip in domestic form is understandable, given their commitments in Europe, but he is preparing his side for a difficult trip to the East Midlands this weekend.
“Leicester will certainly finish in the top eight, so there’s a real fight for us,” said Pardew. “I think they’ve targeted the Champions League this year and quite rightly so after last year.”
Pardew believes it’s only a matter of time before the Foxes turn around their disappointing league form, although he backed his side to claim all three points in Saturday’s meeting between the two clubs.
“They won the league through character in the dressing room and that character will come through,” he said.
“They’re missing N’Golo Kante and they haven’t quite got the balance right without him. Any club would miss him, he’s proved his worth at Chelsea.
“We think we can go toe-to-toe with anybody. I think this fixture will be very tight again and I hope we come out on the right side.”
Palace head into the Leicester game on the back of a 1-0 home defeat against West Ham last weekend.
Christian Benteke embarrassingly miscued a penalty over the bar midway through the second half against the Hammers but Pardew insists he still has full faith in the Belgium international.
“I have great faith in Christian. It’s important he continues to score goals and I would always encourage my centre-forward to take penalties,” he said.
“Taking a penalty when a striker is in a hole can help them get their rhythm back. Christian isn’t in a hole, I want him to keep scoring.”
Pardew also revealed that Scott Dann is nearing full fitness but is not expected to make the starting line-up for Saturday’s game.
“I think it might be a slight risk to start Scott Dann. I don’t think the two other centre-backs deserve that either,” he said. “So I’ll go with the two [Damien Delaney and James Tomkins]. Scotty on the bench.”