Hope springs eternal for the football fan, and as Liverpool head into their first match of December there is again hope. A very slight bit of hope, perhaps, but after probably the worst month for the club since the Roy Hodgson era, most fans will take what they can get—even if it's a narrow, nervous 1-0 victory over Stoke City and now the chance to take another small step in the right direction against Leicester City.
As far as chances to take another step in the right direction go, on paper there isn't a better opponent than the Foxes. The newly promoted side are the worst in the Premier League and already clear relegation favourites with just 10 points after 13 games. They've given up the second most goals in the league and don't score all that many themselves, and with just one point to show for their November, things have not been going well for Leicester City.
However, their -8 goal differential, comfortably better than Burnley, QPR, and Aston Villa, speaks to a side that while deserving of being near the bottom is perhaps not quite as bad as their record. And their 13 goals scored is only two fewer than Liverpool's tally so far in the league. They also beat Manchester United 5-3 in September, and even if they're fated to return to the Championship, their fans will be looking for another scalp.
Throw in the lack of pressure that comes from having no real expectations for the season, and for Liverpool there's always the fear that any signs of hope engendered by the Stoke victory could be undone by a lucky bounce or two for Leicester. Leonardo Ulloa, their 28-year-old Argentine striker, has five goals so far this season and is the most likely to capitalise if things do go Leicester's way.
Steven Gerrard starting on the bench on Saturday means he starts on Tuesday, but only two days between matches means a few who did play well are likely to be rotated. As for where Gerrard plays, over the past year, his worst games in the holding role have tended to come against the weakest opposition, where Liverpool have held possession and he has pushed ever higher up the pitch, following his instincts and leaving acres of space to be countered into.
That likely means a starting role further forward, one that frees him of defensive responsibility and allows him to play off the striker. Behind him, it's possible Rodgers rotates one of Allen or Lucas depending on fitness, but if both have the legs for it, Rodgers will likely stick with the foundation that kept things solid against Stoke. Ahead of them, after a relatively anonymous showing against Stoke, Jordan Henderson could make way for Adam Lallana's creativity.
Meanwhile, if Steven Gerrard is no longer able to play every minute of every match, the same can be said for Rickie Lambert, who looked exhausted late on against both Ludogorets and Stoke. With Mario Balotelli still a doubt, that could mean a return to action for Fabio Borini. At the back, after how often he's played of late, it seems likely that Glen Johnson will also be given the night off.
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST on Tuesday, with BT Sport providing coverage in the UK and NBC Sports Live Extra carrying the match in the US. Our coverage will continue with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us, and if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.