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Leicester City-Everton Preview
Both Leicester City and Everton closed 2018 with frustrating defeats to teams below them in the Premier League table. Now, each club has the chance to quickly bounce back when they open the new year Tuesday at Goodison Park.
Whilst both sides believe they are quite capable of finishing in the top-half of the table, that's still a ways off. The immediate concern for each is to regroup from a loss that marked a sour end to the 2018 calendar year.
Leicester (8-4-8) had posted consecutive victories over league heavyweights Chelsea and Manchester City, and looked as if they would at least earn a point at home Saturday against Cardiff City. However, the Foxes were stunned when Victor Camarasa scored in the second minute of second-half stoppage time to help the visitors leave King Power with a seemingly improbable 1-0 win.
It was particularly rough considering Leicester's James Maddison failed to convert a penalty in the 75th minute.
"A draw was the minimum, and to lose this game for my team and players is harsh," manager Claude Puel, who admitted his club was tired - especially star forward Jamie Vardy - amidst the busy festive period, told LCFC TV.
With a quick turnaround between matches, Puel and his staff will make sure the Foxes don't allow the sting of defeat to linger. Leicester have been solid on the road of late, going 2-2-1 in their last five league contests away from King Power Stadium.
"We need to try to get three points," Puel said. "We will see what players are available. It will be another challenge."We need to move on, to look forward and prepare for this game with a good rest, and continue with our mentality."
After halting an 0-2-3 top-flight rut with a 5-1 rout at Burnley on Boxing Day, Everton (7-6-7) were hoping to win back-to-back league games for the first time since October. Instead, the Toffees offered little offensive fight in a 1-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Everton managed just four shots on goal and only 48 percent possession against a Brighton squad that was winless in their previous four matches.
Like Puel, Toffees boss Marco Silva wants his club only looking ahead, and not worrying about what happened one game after their highest-scoring contest of the campaign.
"It is important to be strong again and ready for the next match," Silva told Everton's official website.
Everton also get another chance to turn things around at Goodison, where they are 0-2-1 following a four-game Premier League winning streak.
"We have to put in our players' minds how important the next game is," Silva added. "We have to change our recent form at home and give a different answer.
"It will be a tough match but we have to give 100 percent to win it."
The good news for Everton is that they should feel confident facing Leicester after winning 2-1 at King Power on Oct. 6. Richarlison opened the scoring in the seventh minute, and after Ricardo Pereira equalised for the home side late in the first-half, Gylfi Sigurdsson scored on 77 minutes with the eventual winner.
The Toffees have also won the last two meetings between the sides at Goodison Park.
Updated December 30, 2018