Best Odds: 23/10
Premier League champions Leicester City find themselves in all sorts of problems at the moment and this is another must-win game for them. Everton are in a similar position after the last-minute defeat in the Merseyside derby, and everything suggests we will see a nervy affair at King Power Stadium.
Leicester City were never going to repeat the coup from last season when they defied the odds to be crowned Premier League champions, but we didn’t expect them to be fighting for survival either. While they have impressed in their debut Champions League campaign, the Foxes have largely struggled for form in the Premiership and they currently sit just three points above the relegation zone. Claudio Ranieri’s side occasionally show what they are capable of, with the 4-2 hammering of Manchester City one such match, but the lack of consistency is the main reason why their current league position is far from enviable. The Foxes were able to raise their spirits a little bit ahead of the holiday season as they came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Stoke City, scoring both of those goals after Jamie Vardy had been sent off. The England international was subsequently slapped with a three-match suspension, and there are no doubts he will be sorely missed in games against Everton, West Ham United and Middlesbrough. With few more important players missing the Boxing Day clash, the Foxes could find it hard to end the barren run of results.
Claudio Ranieri faces a genuine selection headache considering that Jamie Vardy, Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs are all banned.
Talented Ben Chilwell should start at left-back, whereas midfielder Danny Drinkwater remains injury doubt as he battles a knee problem/
Unlike their next opponents, who managed to win the Premier League trophy before being back to fighting for their lives, Everton didn’t even come close to a top 4 finish in recent years, and they are slowly becoming referred to as perennial underachievers. The Toffees showed some improvement in the early days of Ronald Koeman’s reign, but have since returned to their usual inconsistent selves, and currently sit huge 11 points behind Champions League positions. The January transfer window cannot seem to arrive quickly enough for the new manager, who is targeting a number of high-profile footballers, but there are two important away fixtures before the window opens and it is clear where the focus is at the moment. Having lost each of their last four Premier League matches on the road, conceding 11 goals in total, the Toffees will need to show a great deal of improvement if they want to end the losing streak, but this may be their chance to defeat under-strength Leicester City and kick-start their top 4 bid.
Maarten Stekeleburg should be fit to play despite suffering an injury against Liverpool, but James McCarthy looks set to miss out.
Phil Jagielka is back from a one-match ban, while Muhamed Besic and Yannick Bolasie remain in the treatment room.
Key Factors to Consider
- Everton haven’t won away to Leicester since 1997
- At least four goals were scored in each of their last four meetings
- Leicester won both fixtures last season (3-1, 2-3)
- Everton lost four straight away games
- Foxes missing three starters through suspension
While Leicester are missing a number of first team regulars, Everton largely struggle on the road, and with both sides out of confidence, we cannot really hope for an exciting Boxing Day clash. The two sides could easily cancel each other out, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see them share the spoils at King Power.
Best Odds: 23/10
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