Leicester City vs Liverpool
K/O: 12:30 hours
Venue: King Power Stadium
TV: Sky Sport Main Event
Referee: Paul Tierney
Leicester host Liverpool this Saturday lunchtime in front of the Sky cameras with the visitors hoping to continue their unprecedented 100% record and maintain their lead at the Premier League summit. The Foxes, having dispatched Fleetwood in the Carabao cup during the week by four goals to nil, are flying high on confidence after three successive victories, the last of which in the league came from a 93rd minute winner from Englishman Harry Maguire down at St Mary’s.
Jürgen Klopp’s side on the other hand have continued their impressive form shown from last season and are continually developing under the German. The recruitment of Alisson coupled with the development of Van Dijk, Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold in Liverpool colours have rejuvenated the Reds defence, who are yet to concede a goal in this year’s Premier League campaign and are beginning to make a clear statement of their title aspirations.
It is fair to say that the two sides are fond of each other, having met five times during 2017 (once in pre-season). These five fixtures have seen 17 goals with Liverpool just edging their opponents with three wins to Leicester’s two. I would be surprised if one of Gareth Southgate or Steve Holland were not present at the King Power come Saturday due to the heavy presence of English internationals. The Foxes had five Englishmen in the match-day squad against Southampton with their visitors slightly surpassing them with six against Brighton. Five members of the recently names England squad could potentially be on display in the East Midlands this Saturday lunchtime.
The Foxes continue to be without Jamie Vardy who will serve the last of his three match ban this weekend. Perhaps surprisingly to some, Leicester’s number nine has this week announced his retirement from international football. The Sheffield born striker who notched up 26 appearances for the Three Lions has stated his desire to focus on club football, much to the delight of the Leicester City faithful. With Vardy’s empathic record against the top six sides, he will be a monumental miss for Leicester against Liverpool.
Claude Puel has ringed the changes in his last two PL fixtures with four changes being made ahead of the Wolves fixture as well as three adjustments ahead of the test of Southampton. The feeling is that the manager is yet to decide on his preferred starting XI and more changes could be expected for the trip of Liverpool. The managers transition between sides highlights the depth of the squad at his disposal and it could be a while before he decides on his best starting XI.
With Vardy still absent, Iheanacho is again likely to lead the line with support from Maddison. Schmeichel will be between the sticks behind Maguire and likely Wes Morgan. Caglar Soyuncu is still awaiting his debut for the Foxes after his arrival from Freiburg yet any involvement is unlikely for the centre back with a run out for the u23’s soon his most likely approach. Matty James remains the only other injury.
The Reds have never won their opening four fixtures in the Premier League era and the last time they won their opening three they went onto become runners up during the 2013/14 season under Brendan Rogers.
Yet after a careless second half performance against Brighton last weekend, Liverpool were perhaps fortunate they were not facing a more destructive team who would have made them pay for their carelessness. It was this second half display which resulted in Jurgen Klopp claiming that Brighton woke them up and that it was a nice wakeup call in time for Saturday’s fixture.
With this in mind, Klopp maybe expected to make minor changes ahead of the trip to the King Power. Fabinho, who is yet to make the match day squad after his summer arrival could be called upon however he may be rested until after the international break. The same applies to Dejan Lovren who has been missing due to a pelvic issue. Klopp stated the centre half is closer to match fitness and he hopes he will be ready after the break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains sidelined.
Predicted starting XI’s:
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Albrighton, Mendy, Ndidi, Gray; Maddison, Iheanacho
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Score Prediction: Leicester City 1 Liverpool 2
Although Jurgen Klopp’s side have lost three of their last four fixtures at the King Power, I expect them to reverse the trend and pull off a narrow victory and maintain their 100% record. Leicester will without doubt not make it easy for the Reds; yet after a below average display against Wolves and snatching three points at the death against Southampton, Liverpool should have enough to get past Puel’s side. The absence of Vardy, who has scored seven goals in his last five appearances against Liverpool is also significant ahead of Saturdays meeting.