The Jürgen Klopp era hasn't had a good month despite the wonderful 6-1 victory over Southampton in the League Cup. Liverpool's players started December on fire and have barely flickered since against Newcastle, FC Sion, West Bromwich Albion, and Watford FC. The Watford game is best consigned to history only to be remembered to charge the players up to right the wrongs of the past like Oliver Queen's Arrow. Save your city fellas, or something.
Europa League qualification was secured without much fuss along with the prestige of finishing top of the group; Augsburg are February's reward for qualification. Stoke City lie in wait next month over two legs in the Capital One semi-finals. The Premier League? One point from nine against opposition that could be fairly described as somewhat modest isn't the best preparation for welcoming the league leaders to Anfield, but in a season of unfettered unpredictability and surprises, perhaps Liverpool are perfectly placed to triumph tomorrow.
Leicester sit two points ahead of Arsenal, six ahead of Manchester City, nine ahead of both Manchester United and Tottenham, fourteen ahead of Liverpool, and an incredible twenty ahead of Chelsea. This band of merry men were bottom of the league last Christmas. Amazing. In 20 competitive games this season, Leicester have only lost once in 90 minutes. Arsenal won 5-2 in a delightfully entertaining game at the end of September, while Steve Bruce's Hull City won on penalties after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. Liverpool may be at Anfield, but Claudio Ranieri's side won't be easy to beat.
Injuries ebb and flow for Liverpool. James Milner's calf injury still rules him out, Martin Škrtel is out for six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against Watford, and Jordan Rossiter's hamstrings are a problem for now. Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan could be back next month or February or March. Who knows? Danny Ings and Joe Gomez are out for the season with super pesky ACL knee injuries. After all that bad news, here's some good news! Dejan "The Count" Lovren and Simon "Waffles" Mignolet are set to return against the Foxes.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Clyne / Lovren / Sakho / Moreno
Lucas / Can
Coutinho / Henderson / Lallana
Maybe it's a 4-3-3 formation with Henderson dropping deeper with Lallana and Coutinho playing closer to Benteke. Mamadou Sakho will hopefully have shaken off some rust after a desperately poor performance against Watford, Roberto Firmino is probably going to start on the bench after an anonymous showing last time out, and Lovren as well as Mignolet should return straight into the starting line-up. Next time Kolo. Chin up Adam. Jordon Ibe and Divock Origi could receive a festive start after promising cameos last weekend. These professionals should make up the crew to attempt what Watford, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Everton simply could not do in recent games: defeat Leicester City.
Liverpool will have a lot of work to stop Leicester's three superstars of the season to date in N'Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez, and Jamie Vardy. A box to box superstar, 2014/15 Eden Hazard on crack, and a Premier League goalscoring record breaker when there have been a number of superstar strikers since English football came into being in 1992. Old joke. Don't care. It's Christmas. Plus, there are focused players supporting their star players fantastically. Defending has been a bit of a problem, however, for a side that deservedly sits atop the Premier League tree. When a side has scored in every competitive game this season, defending is probably the opposition's concern more than league leaders.
Tactics? The visiting side has the tools to expose Liverpool's weaknesses far more than Crystal Palace, which should worry supporters. There's more. Leicester are ruthless on the counter attack, play with dizzying verticality, are fit as as many fiddles as you can gather, take their chances, regularly display resilience to come back from behind, and are relentlessly positive. The so-called tougher run of fixtures haven't halted a remarkable story. However, Liverpool have shown that big occasions under the magnificent Jürgen Klopp aren't a problem. Would you really be surprised by a victory against Leicester followed by dropping points against Sunderland? Neither would I friend, neither would I. Liverpool might win simply because it's been that kind of season.
Before worrying about Big Sam's tactical and motivational prowess with a dash of Fabio Borini, let's see Anfield and the players collectively respond to Klopp's cajoling on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM GMT/10:00AM EST tomorrow, with coverage from LFCTV GO online for subscribers across the globe and NBC Sports Live Extra in the US. Unfortunately, there won't be any live coverage in the UK. We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.