This is the absolute biggest day of the season for Leicester and one of the most important in the entire managerial career of Claudio Ranieri.
Throughout his near 30 years as a coach, getting teams into promising positions has always been a speciality, but keeping them there has consistently proven a lot more complicated.
The 64-year-old’s exceptional work before Christmas has been sufficient to establish the Foxes as one of the four frontrunners for a top-four finish at 19/20 ahead of the likes of Manchester United (11/10), Liverpool (8/5) and Chelsea (12/1).
However, his past projects teach that a Boxing Day loss to Liverpool could spiral into a destructive run which sabotages all of their stellar work until now, especially with the follow-up fixture coming against Manchester City. Ranieri’s men are cast as 16/5 outsiders, with the visitors 17/20 to triumph.
A look at the Italian’s last few club jobs shows that he had Monaco within two points of Paris St-Germain after 18 games in their first season back in Ligue 1 two years ago, only for dropped points in seven of their next 13 matches to ruin their challenge.
At Inter, he briefly seemed like the second coming of Jose Mourinho in January 2012 following a streak of seven successive Serie A victories but, once the momentum drained, they collapsed, earning six points from the next available 30 to prompt his sacking six months on from his arrival.
There were similar rise and falls at Juventus and Roma directly before those stints, yet there is a reason to believe that things are different at Leicester.
After all, the midlanders already took one almighty body blow in September when their unbeaten start was blown apart 5-2 by Arsenal at the King Power Stadium and they responded to that by performing even better than before, winning eight and drawing two of the upcoming 10 games.
Leicester have won three in four as hosts since then, whereas Man City lost away to the other top-four sides Arsenal and Tottenham and have prevailed just once in five tries at top-half companions, so 16/5 is a pretty tasty price on the Foxes confirming that they aren’t finished.
Ladbrokes have several special offers for this second-versus-fourth clash, with the Jamie Vardy one in particular worth checking out if you anticipate a home win:
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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