Liverpool return from Qatar as world champions and return to Premier League duties on Boxing Day. They visit second-placed Leicester City as they seek to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table. Jurgen Klopp’s world champions, having beaten Flamengo in the Club World Cup final, will be hoping to continue their unbeaten record so far in the top flight and that Roberto Firmino can continue his current goalscoring form.
Roberto Firmino Hits Goalscoring Form at Crucial Time
Leading the Line
Roberto Firmino will lead the line, fresh from scoring the winner in both of Liverpool’s Club World Cup fixtures. He hasn’t quite hit the heights of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah this season in terms of goal scoring, but what Firmino offers to this side is so much more.
Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri are options for this game, though it is likely they will start on the bench. While they didn’t start the Club World Cup final, there has been enough time since Saturday for rotation not to be wholly necessary. Given Leicester’s position in the table, it makes sense for Klopp to play his strongest side so Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah should start alongside Firmino.
Injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been unfortunate with injuries during his time at Liverpool and he suffered another against Flamengo. This means that he will be out for some time, which is a shame for both the player and team as he has performed consistently well this season.
Naby Keita has been outstanding in recent games and should continue in midfield. He will start alongside Jordan Henderson, who has been in fine form himself recently. This leaves one spot available in midfield. If Georginio Wijnaldum has made a full recovery from the injury that kept him out of the semi-final against Monterrey, then he should complete the trio. However, if not Jurgen Klopp still has options with James Milner and Adam Lallana both available.
Virgil van Dijk-Joe Gomez Partnership Impressing
In defence, Joe Gomez is likely to partner Virgil van Dijk at centre back. The pairing which began last season and helped the Reds become so solid at the back has continued to impress. Not counting the Carabao Cup game against Aston Villa, an anomaly due to the nature of the side put out, Liverpool have only conceded one goal in their last five games, showing a return to defensive solidity. Injuries to Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip may mean that Ki-Jana Hoever gets a place on the bench.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson should continue in their respective full-back roles, though James Milner is an option if Klopp elects to rotate. However, this should not be the case given that this is a top of the table clash. Alisson will continue in goal, while Adrian will remain his deputy.
Predicted line-up: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino