Leicester visited Anfield on Boxing Day with the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League. City have only won 1 of the past 11 top flight Boxing Day matches and Liverpool have never lost at home on Boxing Day in the Premier League.
On arrival at the ground, there was a good atmosphere and everyone was in high spirits with the Foxes Fans once again travelling in great numbers. There were a few shiny new shirts and it was clear what some folk had got from Santa, particularly the white shirt which came back in stock, funnily enough just in time for Christmas. (Not that I’m suggesting a marketing ploy by the owners).
Huth regained his position following suspension but Wasyl could feel hard done by as he had a decent performance against Everton last weekend. Okazaki was once again preferred over Ulloa.
The first half was a tactical affair with very few chances for either side, but Liverpool dominated and City didn’t help themselves with some loose passing. Schmichel had to twice be alert to save from Origi and Can respectively.
Origi took a knock for the hosts and the dangerous Christian Benteke came on to replace him on 37 minutes. City had their best chance of the half on 41 when Mahrez broke out of the shackles Liverpool had put on him. The Algerian linked up well for a one two with the outstanding N’Golo Kante who set him up on the edge of the box. Mahrez hit a rasping left foot shot which was pushed over by Mingnolet keeping it 0-0 at half time.
Second half, City looked brighter, but still struggled to break down a well organised and similarly counter attacking Liverpool team. The Reds broke the deadlock on 63 from a well worked throw in on the left flank. Ferminio delivered a low whipped cross into the penalty area and Benteke slid in and took his chance well to make it 1-0.
Vardy and Okazaki made way for Ulloa and Dyer on 69. It transpires Vardy had a fever before the game and it showed today. Nothing was coming off for Okazaki who worked hard, but was a little lightweight under the tough but fair tackles Liverpool put in.
Dyer gave City the spring in the step they needed and he almost scored on 73 after some nice play down the left by Christian Fuchs who delivered a dangerous ball into Dyer, with the Swansea loanee forcing Mingnolet into a save from close range.
Andrej Kramaric made a rare appearance when he came on for the final ten minutes, replacing Mahrez. It wasn’t difficult to see why he isn’t getting into the side. His first touch is way off the mark and much like Okazaki, he too was too lightweight against the Liverpool back line. I’m not being too harsh on the lad as he hasn’t played much and he only got ten minutes today, but when we needed an impact sub, he just wasn’t it.
King had a glorious chance which was blocked from close range on 88 and it was clear it wasn’t going to be our day. As City pushed for an equaliser, Schmeichel came up to assist with the attack, but as City lost the ball, it looked certain Liverpool would go on to score a second and put the game beyond the Foxes. Firminio once again fed the ball to Benteke who only had to keep his composure and slot the ball into and empty net, however Morgan battled back well and managed to intercept and block Benteke to keep the score at 1-0.
City had one final effort down the right wing as Albrighton delivered a dangerous cross into King, but the Welshman headed high and wide and the game ended 1-0.
It wasn’t a poor performance from the Foxes, it was just an off day against a Liverpool team who didn’t allow us to play to our strengths. We lacked that cutting edge in the final third, but one thing is clear for me. We need to invest in a second striker in January, someone who can make an impact from the bench when we need to change our system.
Despite this, City remained top, after Southampton thumped Arsenal 4-0, which sets up a mouthwatering match between the Foxes and Man City on Tuesday in a battle for top spot going into 2016.
Man of the match – N’Golo Kante