Liverpool v Leicester City EPL Match Preview
A busy schedule of games in the Premier League kicks off on Boxing Day and one of the stand-out fixtures is table topping Leicester City’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
THE “NORMAL ONE” LOSING HIS SENSE OF HUMOUR
A couple of months ago it was all smiles for new Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp as he set about constructing a team in his own imitable style. As we head into the festive calendar, things are a little different after failure to win in his last three games, have once again cast doubts about his ability to return the Anfield club to its former glories. A touchline bust-up with West Bromwich Albion coach Tony Pulis after their recent draw, displayed a more vulnerable side to Klopp’s character than we had seen since his high profile arrival on Merseyside. This week he’s had the backing of his star midfielder, Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho who claims he can turn the clubs fortunes around. A huge test now awaits him and his team on Boxing Day as Leicester City, top of the table at Christmas, head to Anfield to try to heap more misery on the disgruntled German.
RANIERI CLAIMS LEICESTER CITY ARE TWO POINTS FROM SAFETY
Another remarkable away win last time out against the blue half of Merseyside ensured Leicester City are top of the table for Christmas. Five of the last six clubs to do this have gone on to become champions, but coach Claudio Ranieri remains calm, stating the club’s primary objective is to reach the magical 40 point barrier which almost guarantees top-flight football next season. The best football betting sites have more confidence in his team than just survival, currently quoting them at *12.00 to win the title, or *1.90 to claim a Champions League place next season. What was once thought to be an impossible dream is gaining momentum with every win and with striker Jamie Vardy back in the goals and Algerian midfielder (and currently, a certainty for player of the year) Riyad Mahrez in unstoppable form, it would be a brave call to dismiss them from causing the biggest upset in the history of the Premier League.
Klopp will be without Danish defender Martin Skrtl for this festive fixture after he picked up a hamstring injury in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Watford; Belgian youngster DivockOrigi could deputise in the heart of the defence, if DejanLovren fails to regain his fitness in time for Saturday. Belgian striker Christian Benteke (priced at *2.20 on the betting exchanges to open the scoring on Saturday), could start in place of Roberto Firmino, who was pretty ineffective in the Watford debacle. The infirmary at Anfield still has many patients with James Milner, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan still on their respective roads to recovery.
Ranieri should welcome back big defender Robert Huth after he was suspended for the Everton game last Saturday. Midfielder Danny Drinkwater is a doubt after missing last weekend’s game and he will be joined by Jeffrey Schlupp and Matty James, who are both unavailable for the quick return to Merseyside.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Liverpool (4-3-3) Mignolet; Moreno, Sakho, Origi, Clyne; Can, Henderson, Lucas Leiva; Coutinho, Benteke, Lallana
Leicester City (4-4-2) Schmeichel; Fuchs, Morgan, Huth, Simpson; Albrighton, Kanté, King, Mahrez; Vardy, Okazaki
HEAD TO HEAD
Leicester City’s last league win against Liverpool came back in March 2001. Their last win at Anfield was the previous season in May of 2000. Liverpool have won three of their last four home games against the Foxes, but last season’s corresponding fixture ended 2-2 on New Year’s Day. Two penalties from Steven Gerrard put the hosts in front before David Nugent and Schlupp levelled for the visitors.
Liverpool 1.95 Draw 3.75 Leicester City 3.75
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)