It’s that special time of the year in England when the festivities are supplemented by the football on telly much to the dismay of a lot of managers and players, but the fans, certainly look forward to what is a busy period in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will welcome top of the table Leicester City on Saturday in a crucial encounter for both sides which could indicate where the two sides stand with respect to achieving their end-of-the-season objectives, all the more so for the home team. The Reds, go into this game, on the back of a shocking 3-0 defeat at Watford which confirmed their slight dip in form after impressive wins at Chelsea and Man City. They sit 9th on the league table with 24 points from 17 games, but only 14th on the form table, having picked up just 9 points in their last 6 games at Anfield, they will need to win on Saturday to ensure their place in the tussle for top four.
What a season Leicester City are having at the moment. Everything is going right for them at this point in time and they deserve to be top of the table right now, playing the brand of football that is incisive, lethal and downright cut-throat. They are, unsurprisingly, top of the form table as well, picking up 16 points from 6 games while their recent form on road has been impeccable – 5 wins in 6. Ranieri has been tempering the expectations of the fans, stating the club’s main ambition was to cross the 40 point mark, which they could, in truth, with about 20 games to spare, but it’s time he acknowledged the Foxes are genuine contenders for the title, or at least, the Champions League places. They can’t complain anyway, that, whatever he says to deflect any pressure works in his favor now, as the side truly look like they could go all the way this season. In the pre-Liverpool presser he said,
“The pressure is on the big teams. Leicester had the pressure last season in this period, bad stress. Now they must enjoy it. They must play free, without pressure. It’s stupid if we have pressure. Why? Enjoy it. All the world are speaking about you. When we achieve 40 points we’ll stop for one second and have a meeting. Maybe they want to go one side, I want to go one side, we have to go together.”
In the corresponding fixture last season, the two teams shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw which saw the visiting team forge a comeback from 2-0 down.
Liverpool football club do have a lot of key injuries to deal with ahead of the visit of Leicester. Defenders Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren will be sidelined while forward Daniel Sturridge has endured another hamstring issue and is a doubt to feature. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will require a late fitness assessment prior to the game. James Milner could also miss the game with a calf injury.
Ranieri, on the other hand, should be bothered by a few important injuries. One, being Jamie Vardy, the top scorer in the league, who is doubtful to make it in time for the game at Anfield. Danny Drinkwater should be unavailable, too, as he suffered a hamstring injury and is set to return after the turn of the year.
- Liverpool have won four and lost none of their last six Barclays Premier League games against Leicester City.
- Liverpool have never lost at home in the Premier League on Boxing Day (W5 D3), but Leicester were one of the teams to earn a draw back in 1996.
- Leicester were unbeaten in their last nine Boxing Day matches before returning to the top flight (W4 D5). However, they have won just one of their last 10 fixtures on this day in the top division of English football (W1 D3 L6).
- Jamie Vardy has won six penalties in the Premier League since the start of 2014-15; more than any other player.
Key Men Comparison
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) v Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
5 goals and 3 assists in 14 appearances for the Brazilian midfielder so far this season, and it’s quite been a mixed bag, as far as his individual performances are concerned. Having excelled in the two impressive victories against Chelsea ad Man City, Coutinho has faded off a bit, failing to win games for Liverpool, a player of his skill and caliber is expected to. It’s still early days under Klopp and there’s all the time in the world for him to blossom into one of the very best in the world, if he can get that consistency to go with his ability on the ball.
Mahrez typifies Leicester City’s glorious season thus far. The rise of this attacking midfielder/winger has been meteoric now that some of the biggest clubs in Europe, let alone England, are keeping an eye out for his performances in England. 20 goals + assists in just 16 appearances is no mean feat and the 24-year old shows no signs of stopping. He’s scored 7 goals in 9 appearances in the month of December, meaning it’s wise to put some on money him doing it again at Anfield against Liverpool, because he is that good.
Leicseter City are the hottest team in the league. But I, for some reason think Liverpool will respond to their previous result which should make this game really interesting for the neutrals. Repeat of last year’s result for me.
Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City