Our football writer takes an in-depth look at the matchup between Liverpool and defending champions Leicester City.
On the surface of things, it would appear that the Reds and the champions have had similar starts to the campaign. Each has a full repertoire of results in three games: a win, a draw and a defeat. But digging deeper you can see the fundamental differences between the sides. Liverpool have compiled 1500 passes in their three games to Leicester’s meagre 900. They have also conceded double the amount of goals: six compared to three.
So it’s clear that Klopp’s side is attempting to monopolize possession while Ranieri is quite content to play on the break - and why wouldn’t he be, Leicester won the title on the counter-attack last season. So this promises to be a sleeper classic in the shadow of that Mancunian grudge match.
Liverpool v Leicester City | Saturday 10 September | Anfield | 18:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Liverpool 6/10 | Draw 3/1 | Leicester City 17/4
Liverpool were desperately unlucky not to get all three points at Spurs last time out. It was the same old riddle: how can Liverpool look so amazing, yet be so ineffective. Saido Mane has declared himself fit and will be itching to run at Morgan and Huth. Klopp will be keen for Firmino and Coutinho to find some more consistency. The pair seem to drift in and out of games in narcoleptic fashion. Sturridge will probably have to be content with a place on the bench, while Emre Can is a massive injury doubt.
The Sturridge saga will only deepen as Mane and Origi stay fit. There’s also the small matter of Danny Inngs to be considered, leaving Sturridge in a potentially tenuous position should he remain injury prone.
Ragnar Klavan will return to the bench, while Milner is likely to continue in a makeshift left-back role. I really think that Milner could get exposed by Mahrez on that side. Klopp would be wise to offer the mercurial Moreno the chance to prove himself this weekend, but I doubt that he will entrust the young man with that responsibility.
It seems that James Milner is a desert island certainty for big games. Mendy and Drinkwater will provide stout resistance and Liverpool will need to manage their possession cohesively if they wish to get the three points at a newly revamped Anfield.
Leicester will be thrilled with their new signing Islam Slimani. The electrifying Algerian will offer invaluable support to Jamie Vardy as the Foxes aim to dispel the notion that last season was a freak occurrence. Shinji Okazaki - the Japanese answer to the Duracell Bunny - will likely have to make way for their new record signing.
Mendy returns from injury and will fill the vacancy left by N'Golo Kante. Danny Drinkwater and Mendy will look to dominate the middle of the park, an area where Liverpool have looked slightly lightweight: Emre Can’s absence will give them added impetus.
I’m slightly worried about Leicester’s backline. I think back to their 5-2 defeat to Arsenal last season. If Liverpool are able to implement their high-octane game-plan with speed and purpose, I fear that the Foxes may be in for a long afternoon. Having said that, Leicester have an abundance of counter-attacking pace in their side.
The prospect of Vardy, Slimani and Musa sharing the field is enough to have any well drilled defensive line-up slightly jittery. And this is hardly a cohesive defensive unit. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are a new combination while Milner has been operating as a makeshift left-back.
Verdict: Totals - Over 2.5 Goals (7/10)
I am finding it quite hard to call this. But giving Liverpool’s propensity for pyrotechnics at either side of the field, coupled with Leicester’s speed on the break, I foresee a high-scoring encounter that may teeter slightly in Liverpool’s favour.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets