Venue – King Power Stadium, Leicester
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Thursday, December 26th @ 20:00
Current Odds – Leicester 9/4, Draw 11/4, Liverpool 21/20
There’s nothing quite like the feast of football served up to us on Boxing Day, is there? Well, add to that the fact that Liverpool’s game is what should be a pulsating top-of-the-table encounter and you’ve got one hell of a night in store on the 26th.
Liverpool are European champions, World champions and on course for a 19th league title. Wallow in that, fellow Reds. Happy Christmas.
Leicester City Form
Leicester City’s defeat at Manchester City on Saturday was only their third of the season. The Foxes have been simply brilliant and, at ten points behind Liverpool, are the only club remaining within any kind of touching distance of The Reds.
A brilliant defence with a classy, creative midfield in front of them has combined to surprise everyone with how their performance this season.
In recent weeks, Rodgers’ side has faltered, though. A 1-1 draw at home to lowly Norwich City was followed by defeat at the Etihad. Not the preparation they would have liked before facing Liverpool this week.
Liverpool have won 16 of their 17 league games so far this season. They have also lifted the UEFA Super Cup as well as being crowned the Club World Champions in Qatar last weekend. That’s how the form is currently for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Phenomenal.
Thursday’s game will be tough for Liverpool. However, despite needing a late penalty to beat them at Anfield in October, The Reds completely dominated Leicester that day.
Leicester City Team News
Matty James is still unavailable for Leicester due to his achilles injury. Harvey Barnes will reportedly face a late fitness test before a decision is made on his availability to start against Liverpool. He suffered an ankle injury in their 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday.
Brendan Rodgers has set his Leicester team up generally in a 4-1-4-1 formation so far this season and no-one can deny it has worked brilliantly so far. Jamie Vardy is the perfect lone frontman for Rodgers’ system and, what’s more, he loves scoring against Liverpool.
Leicester’s midfield has performed to such a high standard this season. Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes have been excellent for most of the campaign.
At the back, the regular four of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu and Ben Chilwell have been outstanding. Leicester have the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League with Liverpool – having conceded 14 goals so far.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Nathaniel Clyne. All are injured for now with none of them expected to feature before the new year.
Rhian Brewster is also injured so may not feature in the matchday squad.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently being assessed after picking up what looked like a nasty ankle injury in The Reds’ Club World Cup final victory over Flamengo on Saturday.
Joe Gomez had a great game against Flamengo so should continue alongside Virgil van Dijk in the centre of the back four.
In midfield, Gini Wijnaldum will probably play the ‘6’ role in Fabinho’s continued absence. I expect Jordan Henderson and the ever-improving Naby Keita to form the rest of the midfield trio.
Liverpool should be at full strength in attack with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané all starting.
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1) – Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Earlier this season, Liverpool beat Leicester 2-1 at Anfield thanks to an injury-time penalty from James Milner. Sadio Mané’s first-half strike had given The Reds the lead until James Maddison cancelled it out with an 80th-minute equaliser.
At the King Power Stadium last season, Liverpool also won 2-1. Goals from Mané and Roberto Firmino put Jurgen Klopp’s side 2-0 up before half-time. Rachid Ghezzal pulled one back for Leicester in the second half.
LEICESTER CITY 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are on a high after Qatar. Yes, they’ll be tired but I think they’re going to go all out to extend that lead at the top of the table by winning at Leicester. The Reds won’t be looking for a draw at the King Power Stadium. Expect a Christmas cracker of a game. Liverpool could be 12 points clear of Leicester with a game in hand come the end of the night.