Leicester City Preview: Reds Look to Start How They Ended on New Year’s Day

The Reds get ready

Liverpool’s resurgent style of play looked to have a bit of a hiccup during the narrow win at Turf Moor on Boxing Day, but Tuesday’s thrashing of Swansea City set the Reds back on course for a improved second half of the season — something they’ll look to carry on against Leicester City tomorrow.

Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his side can avoid the kind of hangover that saw them labour to victory over Burnley, but to fair, as long as his side come out on top, you won’t hear too many complaints come from the Northern Irishman. Since switching up his formation and tactics, the Liverpool boss has watched his side claw their way up the table, though with their top four ambitions very much public knowledge, their position still remains a touch precarious.

It’s always been easier to defend ground than to make it up, but if the Reds want to qualify for the Champions League next year, they’re going to have to put in a near perfect second half to the season. Although they’ve yet to recapture the spark that made them so dangerous last season, following their dominant performance against the Swans, there’s no question that the Reds are back on the right track. That’s good for them, but very, very bad for the Foxes.

Nigel Pearson may have got a rare moment of joy during their surprise win over fellow strugglers Hull City on a few days ago, but his depleted side just don’t look much like climbing off the foot of the table anytime soon. With ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel expected to be out for somewhere around six weeks, under-study Ben Hamer is expected to continue between the sticks. Former Manchester United man Ritchie De Laet will likely be drafted in to replace the suspended Paul Konchesky in the Foxes back-line, while David Nugent should hang on to his place up top with fellow striker Jamie Vardy with record signing Leonardo Ulloa facing a late fitness test.

With the gruelling festive period surely starting to take it’s toll, Rodgers is also expected to make some changes to the team that downed Swansea earlier in the week — though not all of them will be his decision to make. Martin Skrtel is set to miss out through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow of the season which means that Kolo Toure will likely earn himself a recall with Dejan Lovren still out injured. Fullback Javier Manquillo could see himself shifted back to the bench if Steven Gerrard returns to the starting eleven as Jordan Henderson, who wore the armband on Tuesday night, will likely be moved into the wing-back role he’s regularly taken up in their 3-4-3 formation.

With Daniel Sturridge not expected back until later in the month, there’s been suggestions that Raheem Sterling could be given a rest with their hectic schedule not abating until after the trip to Sunderland on the 10th of the month. Mario Balotelli could replace the youngster up top following his decent cameo appearance in the closing stages of the win over the Swans, but Fabio Borini could be seen as the more mobile option with the Reds benefiting highly from Rodgers insistence on pressing from the front — something the Northern Irishman admitted Balotelli just isn’t up for.

No matter who starts up top, in the middle or at the back, Liverpool will be looking to start the year the same way that they ended it, picking up maximum points at home. Another rout would be great for confidence, and there’ll be few teams that will be as ripe for the picking as Leicester City, but the scoreline isn’t likely to matter too much to too many as long as we come out on top.

I’ll echo my previous sentiments from my last few match previews by saying that these are the matches that we have to win if we’re really going to make things uncomfortable for the other sides with top four ambitions. Given our poor start to the season, we’re going to have to take a chunk out of them as well, but winning begets winning — it’s about time we got back in the habit.

Steven

Steven McMillan

Can’t find up from down or tell black from white, but doesn't care cause it’s all Red to him. When he's not pissing and moaning about all things Liverpool, he’s chatting nonsense with his multiple personalities — or his “entourage” as he likes to call them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *