Leicester City Vs Liverpool: Opponent watch with Andrew Beasley

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City at Anfield on October 05, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City at Anfield on October 05, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

There’s only question on everyone’s mind right now: Can Leicester City stop Liverpool dead in their tracks and spark the Premier League title race into life?

It is what the expectation has been for a while -and of a number of teams, too; however, the Reds have simply proved to be beyond anyone’s reach.

Can they be stopped? Will they be stopped? We spoke about that and much more to freelance football writer Andrew Beasley as part of our latest Opponent Watch.

Liverpool have just one defeat in their last 55 Premier League games. They’ve won three trophies in the last seven months. There isn’t a shadow near them in this one-horse title race – in fact, it’s hardly a race.
Have we reached the stage when we can afford to ignore the fact that the Reds are the only Christmas leaders not to have gone on to become the Champions in the last 11 years?

"“I’m of the opinion you can take or leave whatever omens you like from history to make you feel better. But I certainly don’t believe in jinxes or curses or any of that nonsense. While it’s roughly half way through the season, Christmas is just an arbitrary point in the season.“If (as an example) Liverpool had been ahead after 37 games for the last five years and never won it, I might be concerned about that. But not this. The fact they’ve been comfortably the best team in the division over the last year is far more relevant.”"

Leicester City next for the Club World Champions. Given the nature of the league and the stature of the club, it is obviously difficult to think of it as a genuine possibility, but the way the Foxes are being managed both on and off the field, do you see them turning into regular title contenders?

"“Leicester City deserve to be applauded for the way they are run. From the outside, it looks to me like hiring Claude Puel to ensure the team has a good defence before then hiring an excellent attacking coach like Brendan Rodgers seems like a master stroke.“But because of the financial inequality in the league, it will still be a massive ask for Leicester to become regular title contenders. We saw what happened when they won the league – the big six got their act together, and took the top six spots in the league for the next three seasons. The first aim for the Foxes has to be regular Champions League qualification – which in itself will obviously be difficult – and then build from there.”"

Next. Demarai Gray talks being snubbed at Leicester City. dark

It would not be completely wrong to say that Manchester City would be more interested in this top-of-the-table clash than their own trip to the Molineux Stadium to face Wolverhampton Wanderers a day later. Realistically, Leicester can beat Liverpool but will they is one question; another is whether it will have any impact on the title race, as City are hoping?

"“In isolation, a Liverpool loss on Boxing Day wouldn’t have any massive bearing upon the title race. As it stands, the Reds can afford to draw three and lose two of their remaining 21 games, and they would still be guaranteed to be champions.“However, the real question is whether a loss would dent the confidence of a tired squad which is carrying a few injuries. Their performance across 2019 would suggest not, but it could be a factor.”"

There is not going to be any shortage of jaded legs in that Liverpool dressing room. Considering the tough run of fixtures the Anfield side have – they face five of the top eight in their next five (Leicester included) – Jurgen Klopp will have to manage his players accordingly. How does that affect his set-up on the Boxing Day?

"“I expect Klopp to go with as full strength a side as he can at Leicester, and with the injuries Liverpool have, the team would more or less pick itself. I expect to see Alisson in goal, Trent, Gomez, van Dijk and Robertson as the back four, with the usual front three up top.“The only question is in midfield, and even then Fabinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain are out. So I would expect it be Henderson, Keita and either Milner or Wijnaldum.“The following two league games are both at home, to Wolves and Sheffield United. That’s when the likes of Lallana, Shaqiri and Origi are more likely to come into the XI.”"

At this point, this question sounds like a really silly one to ask, but if you had to pick one Liverpool player who is easier than others to give a hard time, or put simply, a weak link, who would it be and why? If you like – and you’re not being forced to answer this one – you could also name the one who’s the likeliest to have the hosts on their knees over the course of the 90 minutes. (Tough ask, we know, but the expectation of you is that of a Mentality Monster.)

"“I genuinely don’t think there any particularly weak links. However, the right side of Liverpool’s defence is easier to get at than the left, so for Leicester to have some joy they probably have to attack down that side.“It’s therefore interesting to note only one team in the Premier League have attacked less down their left side than Leicester have this season. Rodgers may need to change his tactics slightly?“The key man for Liverpool is often Sadio Mané. He’s opened the scoring in the last three meetings of these teams, and across his 22 starts this season he’s scored or assisted a total of 20 goals.”"

Next. Manchester City 3-1 Leicester City: An important lesson for the Foxes. dark

Right, it’s time for your prediction. Oracle Andrew, what doth thee bethink?

"“It’s hard to know how much Liverpool’s exertions in Qatar will have taken out of them. Klopp can be more conservative than opposition fans often realise, particularly away from home, so I think this could easily be a draw and he’ll be satisfied enough. 1-1.”"