The match preview: Liverpool v Leicester City (Premier League)

Liverpool return to league action against an in-form Leicester City side. With a tricky set of fixtures over the coming weeks, three points against the Foxes would be a perfect start. Here’s the preview.

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Liverpool welcome back former coach Brendan Rodgers and his dangerous Leicester City team as they look to extend their 100% record in the Premier League to eight games.

Jürgen Klopp’s side survived a scare in the Champions League on Wednesday — they were three up after 30 minutes but were soon pegged back level just before the hour mark. Mohamed Salah’s goal 20 minutes from time proved to be the difference as the Reds earned their first victory in European competition this season.

The Foxes sit third in the league — they have looked a very dangerous team and are now strong contenders to finish in the top four due to bigger clubs around them failing to live up to expectation. They recorded a 5-0 win over Newcastle last week, proving that they can be a clinical side if the defending isn’t up to scratch.

Recent form

In the first 35 minutes against RB Salzburg, Liverpool were on their way to their best performance of the season. They moved the ball smartly, crisply and effectively and were cutting open the opposition defence like a hot knife through butter.

Sadio Mané put Liverpool ahead on the night and two goals in 10 minutes from Andrew Robertson and Salah put the Reds’ in a commanding position, Hwang Hee-chan pulled one back for the visitors with a fine effort, but it looked as if it were nothing more than a consolation — or so we thought.

A tactical change saw the Austrians get a foothold in the game and they started causing a usually solid Reds defence big problems. Two quick-fire goals from Takumi Minamino and the dangerous Erling Håland saw the visitors level and looked likely to take something from their trip to Merseyside. Another Salah strike made sure that didn’t happen.

Leicester City are the only team apart from Liverpool and Manchester City to average at least two points per game so far this term — every team who has averaged this total per game over the course of a season has qualified for the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers has proved his side can compete with the bigger clubs fighting for a top-four finish.

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They were unlucky to come away with only a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while a narrow 1-0 defeat to Manchester United proved to be the only day were Leicester never showed up. The Midlanders registered only three shots on target, never tested a fragile United back line and were undone by a Marcus Rashford penalty.

They made amends in a home win against Tottenham. Finding themselves behind at half-time, they upped the tempo and soon took the lead through Ricardo Pereira and a late James Maddison strike gave them a deserved three points.

Team news

Joël Matip is one of Klopp’s only players who is at risk of the game. Having missed the match midweek and with no updates from the club so far, he may be sitting this one out as well. Alisson Becker is back after the international break, so this may be the last we see of Adrián until the Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal.

Joe Gomez came under criticism for his performance against Salzburg. He was far too relaxed and often had to rely on his pace to tidy up his mistakes. While some of the criticism is deserved, we must remember that the young player was out injured for almost a year and lacked match fitness. The young defender will likely retain his place next to Virgil van Dijk.

Changes should be made to central midfield. Either Jordan Henderson or Georginio Wijnaldum could make way for Naby Keïta, who will give Liverpool’s midfield another dimension. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also in contention.

The front three will all be ready and hungry for this one, all of whom having scored or assisted at least one goal each in midweek.

Leicester City will make few changes to their starting 11, although Brendan Rodgers may make a defensive change in midfield to keep play tight at the back.

Çağlar Söyüncü has done an excellent job replacing Harry Maguire. The Turkish international defender looks very composed on the ball even when pressed high up the pitch. He will provide a stern test for Liverpool’s attacking players.

Hamza Choudhury could come in and sit alongside Wilfrid Ndidi, James Maddison missed their last game through injury and is 50/50 for this one, so expect him to make an impact from the bench just as Håland did for Salzburg on Wednesday.

Jamie Vardy will be a threat with Liverpool’s high line. The striker has scored seven goals against Liverpool and will be a certainly be a problem once again for van Dijk and his centre back partner.

Prediction

This game is the start of a very tough run of fixtures for Liverpool. Over the next five weeks, they play both Manchester clubs, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, with a two-week international break separating this one and the trip to Old Trafford on October 20.

If the Reds want to maintain or even extend their lead at the top of the table, they must start controlling the game more and stop needlessly conceding goals. Leicester will be the first of many tests over the next couple of weeks and with an almost fully fit squad, now is the time to be getting this bunch of tricky fixtures out of the way.

Unfortunately, I think this may be the first game Liverpool drop points in. Gomez could prove to be a weak link in our defence and allow Vardy numerous opportunities which he will take.

Predicted final score: Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City

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