Liverpool v Leicester - The Premier League Preview
With one game won and two to go, the Christmas Premier League fixture list has started very well for the Reds. After a successful Boxing Day trip to Villa Park, Jurgen Klopp will now be hoping to heap further misery on former Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, as Friday will see his Leicester side travel to Anfield for a game under those famous lights.
Leicester’s last game saw them taken apart at home to big spending Newcastle United, with a 0-3 loss seeing Brendan edge ever closer to the managerial exit door. His talented side currently sit 13th in the league, with just 17 points taken from 16 games played. With just a four-point gap separating themselves from the relegation spots, you feel that a change could be inevitable if another heavy defeat were to materialise. Having conceded 28 goals so far this term, Leicester’s plan will surely about trying to restrict the home side as much as possible, which could point to an overloading of the defensive line.
On the availability front, the Foxes will be missing James Justin, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Dennis Praet and Ryan Bertrand. You would imagine that both Çağlar Söyüncü and Wilfred Ndidi will walk straight back into this side, as Timothy Castagne and Luke Thomas operate at fullback. Danny Ward will persevere in goal, with a want to impress against his former employers. Youri Tielemans will remain in centre midfield, with a potential back three consisting of Söyüncü, Daniel Amartey and Wout Faes. The system will probably see the rear-guard operate more as a back five, with counters installed as the key attacking threat. Ndidi should join the midfield group with Tielemans and Ayoze Pérez, whereas. Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy will be hoping for starts up too. Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka could potentially be dropping out of the side, especially after their poor showing earlier in the week.
Liverpool come into this game in a good run of form, that culminated in a hard fought 1-3 victory away to Aston Villa. With this Friday night game followed quickly by a trip to Brentford, there could be some mild rotation to those that started on Boxing Day. In terms of injuries, the Reds will still be without Luis Díaz, Arthur Melo, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones, Roberto Firmino and James Milner. Ibrahima Konaté has now returned from his post World Cup break, so is available for selection.
Alisson Becker is a nailed-on starter in goal, with both Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander Arnold also likely to be retained. Kostas Tsimikas could come in for Andy Robertson and Ibou is a real candidate to come in for Joel Matip. Both Matip and Robbo may be held back for the trip to London, after two consecutive starts in a week. The midfield should see Fabinho retain his place, with Naby Keita looking to make a first start of the season, with Thiago possibly held back as the LCM. The right of midfield should see Henderson retained, though Harvey Elliott could come in for the skipper if his playing load becomes an issue. With the same front three that started last Monday, it should allow more opportunity for Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah to further build their attacking bond. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain offered good physicality at LF, so will probably garner another start before the arrival of new signing, Cody Gakpo, from PSV Eindhoven.
With both teams fighting very different battles, this could be a very gruelling trip to Anfield for the former Premier League champions. So much uncertainty revolves around the Leicester team right now, and despite the fact they were able to win back-to-back league games (on top of their successful EFL cup win away to MK Dons just last week), it seems they are a team that are struggling for consistency. Bad results often see Brendan make drastic changes to both personnel and system, therefore it’s very difficult to predict how they line up after their beating at home to Newcastle.
Liverpool will be desperate to win pretty much every game until the season ends, with a purpose to finish within that exclusive top four group. Attacking vigour and containing Leicester counter attacks will be a must, alongside an urgency to overwhelm their visitors from the opening whistle. I expect the win that Leicester gained over the Reds last Christmas will be thoroughly reversed on Friday evening, with the Reds running out as comfortable winners.
Player to watch – Trent Alexander Arnold
Liverpool 4 – 0 Leicester