Foxes pull off surprise victory
Leicester will be looking to build upon their morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Liverpool, when they host Norwich on New Year’s Day.
The Foxes went into their match against Liverpool with little in the way of expectations. Leicester had been in poor form, winning only one of their previous six matches (D2 L3) across all competitions, which included a 3-3 draw with a second-string Liverpool side in the EFL Cup, before losing on penalties.
Leicester had a rather unfamiliar look themselves, with several senior players unavailable to Brendan Rodgers. This was particularly true in defence, where Daniel Amartey lined up alongside Wilfred Ndidi in the centre of a back four. Liverpool seemed likely to take advantage of this makeshift setup, but missed a first-half penalty and Leicester were able to hang on, before Ademola Lookman scored the crucial goal after the break.
It was only Leicester’s fourth clean sheet in 27 games this season. Nevertheless, Rodgers will surely be keen to welcome back any reinforcements. Caglar Soyuncu, Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana, Justin James, Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira and Patson Daka all missed the game against Liverpool, while James Maddison and Jamie Vardy picked up knocks.
After brief hope, Norwich slump again
After a bright start under Dean Smith, Norwich come into this match off the back of five consecutive defeats.
After replacing Daniel Farke, the former Brentford and Aston Villa manager Smith, inspired his new team with a three game unbeaten run (W1 D2). It offered the promise of at least a fight for survival, but on the evidence of their five games in December, Norwich are headed back to the Championship. Indeed, Betfair Exchange punters make them 1.11/10 to be playing in the second tier next season.
The Canaries have been beaten by Spurs, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Crystal Palace, without scoring a single goal along the way. That leaves Norwich bottom of the Premier League after with ten points after 19 games (W2 D4 L13) and though 17th placed Watford are only three points ahead, they have two games in hand on Smith’s side.
Smith was very much appointed with one eye on a return to the Championship, having built up plenty of experience in the second tier. A big rebuild is likely in the summer, but for now Smith must soldier on with a lengthy list of players missing through either injury or Covid. Tim Krul, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley, Andrew Omobamidele, Max Aarons, Dimitrios Giannoulis, Lukas Rupp, Mathias Normann, Todd Cantwell, Milot Rashica and Teemu Pukki all missed the 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Plenty of options to back the home win
Leicester are the 1.444/9 favourites, with the draw at 5.14/1 and a Norwich win at 8.88/1.
That seems a fair price for the hosts. They have a lot of injuries, but so do Norwich and it’s Leicester that will be left with the stronger group of players.
An obvious way to boost Leicester’s price given Norwich’s last of goals, is to back the home team to win to nil at 2.6313/8. Yet given Leicester’s own lack of clean sheets, this is far from being a banker. So also consider a Leicester win and over 2.5 goals at 2.01/1 and for the Foxes to win half-time/full-time at 2.26/5.
If backing a goalscorer, Kelechi Iheanacho looks value at 2.35/4. With Daka out and Vardy a doubt, Iheanacho seems guaranteed to start and found the net against Manchester City on Boxing Day.