2. Vardy scores as Leicester hand Liverpool first league loss
The biggest game on Boxing Day sees runaway league leaders, Liverpool, travel to face off against their closest rivals, Leicester City. Both of these sides have had great seasons so far and this match-up could be title defining.
Leicester City have exceeded everyone’s expectations to sit 2nd in the Premier League even after losing to Manchester City at the weekend. Liverpool haven’t lost in the league and have just won the Club World Cup in Qatar, beating Copa Libertadores winners, Flamengo, to the lift the trophy.
If any side is to catch Liverpool this season then Leicester need to take all three points this weekend. The Reds have had meltdowns in the past, but this season they look like they’ll stop at nothing to make sure they win this league title. Leicester experienced this earlier on in the season when Jurgen Klopp’s side scored a very late penalty to beat the Foxes 2-1 at Anfield.
If Liverpool do win this weekend then no matter what happens in other results they’ll be a minimum of 11 points clear with a game in hand against West Ham and only 19 more league games to go. Should they win that game in hand then they could lose four of the remaining 19 and still be clear at the top.
Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City will be desperate to take something from the Reds this Thursday and keep this title race interesting. Rodgers was in charge at Liverpool for one of their last Premier League meltdowns, drawing 3-3 with Crystal Palace and then losing at home to Chelsea to surrender the title to Manchester City in 2014.
Rodgers’ Leicester side have been fantastic all season and this will probably be Liverpool’s hardest match of the season alongside their visit to Manchester City. The Foxes almost took a point at Anfield and there’s no reason to say they can’t challenge the Reds again on Thursday.
Jurgen Klopp won’t use his side’s travels to and from Qatar as an excuse but this could play a part in the result. Liverpool will be on a high from winning the Club World Cup but they may struggle to find the desired energy levels. That could mean squad rotation will come into play for Klopp, meaning that Leicester City should have a better chance of winning this match one way or another.
Jamie Vardy and James Maddison will score to put the Foxes 2-0 up before Saido Mane nets a late goal which will spark a frenetic finish. Liverpool won’t have enough in the tank though and Leicester will hold on to hand the Reds their first league loss of the season.