Leicester City will be looking to maintain their perfect start to the new year when they travel to face Everton on Wednesday night.
The Foxes have won their last five matches in all competitions following a 3-1 Emirates FA Cup success at Brentford at the weekend and will be wanting to avenge the 2-0 defeat against the Toffees back in December.
Similarly, Everton are in a rich vein of form having secured three successive victories after progressing to the fifth round of the cup with a comfortable win over Sheffield Wednesday.
It’s poised to be a closely-fought encounter at Goodison Park as both teams aim to cement their place in the top-six of the Premier League.
Leicester without their talismanic forward
After Brendan Rodgers confirmed that Jamie Vardy was to undergo hernia surgery, many Foxes fans are wondering who is going to fill the void up front. Ayoze Perez started against the Bees in the FA Cup and looked sharp in moments, while Kelechi Iheanacho came on in the latter stages. Both offer a different threat and can impact the game in their own way, giving the Everton defence someone else to worry about.
Perez has the ability to drop into spaces and the link the play, while Iheanacho breaks into the box well and scored in both league matches against the Toffees last season. But the absence of Vardy, who has 11 league goals to his name in 2020-21, will no doubt be a boost for the home side. It will be interesting to see who plays in the no.9 role with a chance to get valuable game time.
Doucoure out might prove vital
Everton will also be missing a crucial cog to their wheel as Abdoulaye Doucoure is suspended after picking up five yellow cards. The midfielder played a big part in their victory at the King Power Stadium last month and was given the Man of the Match award for his efforts. He was used as a shield in front of the back four and minimised the space for the likes of James Maddison to get into those pockets and create opportunities.
With Allan still out and Fabian Delph injured too, Leicester could use that to their advantage especially with the creative players they have at their disposal. Youri Tielemans has also been in fine form and the way he can pick a pass through the lines may potentially give the Foxes an extra dimension in attack.
Set pieces could be the difference
There has been a lot of talk about Leicester’s vulnerability from set pieces, with the Foxes conceding the third-most from a dead ball scenario in the Premier League (8). They also let in another against Brentford, proving the need for City to improve in that department. Everton, on the other hand, can benefit from that as they possess the biggest threat in set play situations having scored nine in the league this season.
One of those came in the reverse fixture as Mason Holgate pounced on a mistake before firing into the back of the net. After Richarlison and Yerry Mina netted from a pair of James Rodriguez corners on Sunday, this is an area which the Toffees can try and get joy from, and Leicester certainly need to work on that ahead of a crucial battle on Merseyside.