Liverpool vs Leicester
| Friday, December 30th |
Premier League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
We’re in the thick of it now. After a leisurely six weeks without club football, the season has picked back up properly, and Liverpool are playing their third game in a week, with another two coming to start the new year. First up, though, Leicester at Anfield.
It’s been a rough tenure for former Reds manager Brendan Rodgers, as his Leicester side have gone from legitimate top four contenders, via mid-table to now struggling to stay out of the bottom quadrant of the Premier League, all in the span of less than four years. Injuries have certainly played a part, but it’s also a pattern observed under the Irishman in the past, and ahead of tomorrow’s clash, the 49-year old will be feeling the pressure.
The Foxes currently sit 13th, four points out of the relegation zone, and go into Friday night’s game missing top scorer James Maddison, who joins Dennis Praet, James Justin, Ricardo Pereira, Johnny Evans and Ryan Bertrand on the injury list.
Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka are all available, though, and represent Leicester best shot at getting a win at Anfield for the first time in over 20 years.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keïta, Elliott; Carvalho, Núñez, Salah
For the Reds, who showed better intensity against Aston Villa than they had for large portions of the season previously, the back-line is now complete, with Ibrahima Konaté rejoining the team in training and being available for selection. Odds are, however, that Joël Matip retains his spot in the side next to Virgil van Dijk, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson start at full-back.
In midfield, Curtis Jones and James Milner miss out, but Naby Keïta returned as a sub against Villa and could be in contention to replace Thiago, who ran out of steam hard around the hour mark on Monday. Fabinho played a full 90, and Jordan Henderson was only subbed off with ten minutes to go, so expect some rotation, perhaps Henderson and Keïta anchoring behind a more progressive Harvey Elliott. The impressive Stefan Bajcetic is a wild card alternative.
Up top, Diogo Jota and Luis Díaz remain unavailable for the foreseeable future, Roberto Fmrino is out with a short-term knock, and new signing Cody Gakpo, whose contract goes into effect on Sunday, is unlikely to be a candidate for another week or so. As such, Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah will be joined by one of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Fabio Carvalho on the left wing.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Leicester had now their first game as well and they didn’t have a good start into the game, the intensity Newcastle put in was quite exceptional and for that day Leicester couldn’t cope with it, but Brendan is an outstanding manager, Leicester have a lot of great, great players so they will try to do it completely differently against us and that’s what we have to be really aware of.”
Brenny Rodge: “It’s always a difficult game and nobody knows that more than myself at Anfield - but it’s a great challenge for us. (Newcastle) was disappointing, like I say, but challenges are there to be overcome and there’s a great opportunity for us to get out there in a fantastic game.“
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant referees: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger
Fourth official: Andy Madley
VAR: Paul Tierney, Natalie Aspinall
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.