LIVERPOOL FC

Liverpool Football Club     vsLeicester02

               LEICESTER CITY FC

                       Thursday; January 1 2015; 15:00 GMT

          Anfield, Liverpool

      **************

After a moral boosting 4-1 thrashing of Swansea in the last game of 2014, the Reds would be looking to make it 3 wins a row when they face bottom side Leicester City at Anfield on New Year’s Day. Rodgers will be confident of doing the double against the Foxes and start off 2015 on a bright note.

Team News and Tactics

Liverpool

Monday night’s mauling of Swansea City was by far the best performance put up by Liverpool in 10 home games this season. This goes to show how average the Reds have been, and Rodgers’ team will be looking to make amends in the second half of this season. The game against Leicester provides the perfect opportunity for Liverpool to kick-start a winning run and lay the platform to a top 4 finish.  The squad looks more settled now and the players have begun to develop an understanding on the pitch. It was a treat to watch the front three; Coutinho, Lallana and Sterling weave their magic on the Swansea defence on Monday night. The pressing was very impressive and brought back memories of last season.

Sterling, who cemented his place in the side this time last year has become the most important player for the Reds and would be one of the first names to go on the team sheet. The 20 year old is expected to lead the line once again and he would fancy his chances against the likes of Wes Morgan and Wasilewsky. With Brendan Rodgers not too keen on changing his winning formula, it remains to be seen if captain Steven Gerrard makes his way back to the starting eleven. The Liverpool midfield performed very well without him, and Manquillo would make way for Gerrard should Liverpool`s number 8 start. Martin Skrtel is ruled out of this game due to suspension and Kolo Toure is expected to start in the centre of a 3 man defence.

Probable Starting Lineup (3-4-3): Mignolet (GK); Can, Toure, Sakho; Manquillo, Henderson (C), Lucas, Moreno; Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling

 Capture

Leicester City

Just short of a month ago, Leicester City were handed a lesson of ‘how not to squander opportunities that come your way’. The Foxes dominated for the opening 20 to 25 minutes and created a flurry of opportunities. They should’ve capitalised on Mignolet`s shaky form (especially after the Liverpool custodian’s howler) but failed to do so and ultimately paid the price. Liverpool were much better in the final third and came away with a 3-1 victory. Nigel Pearson would finally think luck is on his side, after Leicester finally broke the disaster of six consecutive losses in the game against Hull City, despite being poor for 90 minutes. He would be wary of Liverpool`s new found confidence and would be looking to frustrate the Reds and stop them getting on the score sheet early.

Paul Konchesky would miss out on an Anfield reunion and Andy King is ruled out of this one due to a thigh problem. Leicester would most probably field a 4-5-1 formation with Ulloa playing upfront. They would try to play long balls and pose questions to the much maligned Mignolet and the Liverpool defence. But, the game would be won and lost in midfield and it depends mostly on how Leicester cope with Liverpool’s pressing. If they manage to stifle the Reds for long periods of the game, then we may have an upset on New Years day.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Hamer (GK);  Danny Simpson, Marcin Wasilewski, Westley Morgan (C), Richie de Laet; Matthew James, Esteban Cambiasso, Jeffrey Schlupp, Riyad Mahrez; David Nugent; José Leonardo Ulloa.

Key Facts

  1. Liverpool made 833 tackles in 2014, more than any other team in the Premier League.
  2. Brendan Rodgers has never lost a game on the first game of the year as Liverpool manager.
  3. The Reds are looking to win 3 consecutive games for the first time this season.
  4. Leicester have not won back to back away games in the top flight since 2003. 

Player to watch out for

Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)

With 1 goal and 2 assists in his last two games, Phillipe Coutinho is the danger man for Leicester. The talented Brazilian has forged a developing partnership with Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana. The pass to set up Adam Lallana’s second goal was pure Samba magic and it will be up to the former Inter man to deliver the assists for Liverpool. He would be relishing the prospect of facing the Premier League’s bottom club and add more goals and assists to his tally this season.

Prediction

 Liverpool 3-1 Leicester City

 Blast from the Past

 Highlights of the reverse fixture played at the King Power Stadium in December.