Much needed respite finally came to Leicester at the KC Stadium on Sunday, thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s solitary strike against Hull City, ending Leicester’s 13 game winless streak.
Whilst City remain bottom of the table, they have given themselves a lifeline, and with the transfer window about toopen, it gives Nigel Pearson the chance to freshen up the squad, hopefully giving themselves a fighting chance for survival.
Before that, they travel to a much improved Liverpool side, who seem to be coming out of their half a season slump, giving Leicester a tough fixture on New Year’s day.
Leicester will hope to get as much out of Algerian winger Mahrez as possible before he flies off to compete in the African Nations Cup for the rest of the month, and Leicester will no doubt miss the excellent contributions from arguably there stand out player.
With Paul Koncheskey’s needless red card at Hull and Jeff Schlupp another player who has already left for the African Nations Cup, Leicester will find themselves short at left-back and it is likely Foxes manager Pearson will delve into the transfer market and pick up a left-sided player.
With the transfer window barely open and certainly not enough time for Pearson to get somebody in, it could open the door for Anthony Knockaert to get some valuable game time and remind the foxes faithful of what he can do.
The Christmas period saw the return to the starting line-up of David Nugent and whilst he will never be a prolific scorer in the Premier League, he adds more zest into the side when he plays from the beginning. Nugent’s understanding with Ulloa seems to be improving and with Vardy out, a prolonged spell in the side will be what the Leicester fans ordered.
Danny Simpson’s defensive qualities are keeping the more attack minded Ritchie De Laet out of the side at the moment and the Leicester defence has looked tighter in recent games. Both Morgan and Wasilewski have also been big contributors to the tighter defensive line, but look for Pearson to look for a quality centre back too in January, where he knows that improvement is needed.
Ben Hamer will continue to deputise for regular goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who is still a few weeks away from a return. Hamer has been a positive since he came in the side and though there is improvement needed, particularly on positioning, there is cause for optimism with Hamer between the sticks and Leicester fans can be assured he will be giving his all.
Liverpool’s Christmas period has been brighter than the majority of their season and they have to be applauded for sticking with Brendan Rodgers, when some pundits and fans were calling for his removal. After last season’s marked improvement, and near title challenge, Liverpool have regressed but time will improve them again.
The goals of Suarez are yet to be replaced and were a big part of their success last year. Along with Daniel Sturridge’s long term injury, the goals have dried up considerably and the experiment with Mario Ballotelli, is one that has not come off.
With the legendary Steven Gerrard, on the decline, there is a need for both Henderson and Lallana to step up and cement that midfield partnership, and push Liverpool back to the higher regions of the Premier League.
Prediction – Hard fought game but Leicester will go to one of their preferred Premier League grounds and have a good record at Anfield, giving hope for a positive result. A 1-1 draw looks to be a good outcome for the foxes with Nugent scoring for the Foxes.