LIVERPOOL VS LEICESTER CITY: PREVIEW
Following the hard fought victory at Villa Park, Liverpool are next in action on Friday night when Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City visit Anfield. Kickoff is slated for 8pm GMT as the Reds wrap up 2022. Here’s a preview of the game.
Where else to start than the 3-1 win over Aston Villa? It marked a strong return to Premier League action for the side following elimination in the League Cup at the hands of Manchester City.
A frantic, end to end game saw Liverpool come out on top in the end, with Stefan Bajcetic stepping off the bench to secure the points with a strike that saw him become the third youngest player to score a Premier League goal for the Reds.
The game wasn’t without it’s nervy moments, with Villa ramping up the pressure and overrunning the Liverpool midfield in the second half (till Bajcetic’s effort sapped any thoughts of a comeback that is).
The issues in midfield have been covered to death, and it will be interesting to see if any moves are made in the transfer window to address it. The imminent capture of Cody Gakpo certainly strengthens the attacking options available to Jürgen Klopp.
The victory on Monday night was a third consecutive league win – the first time the Reds have managed that feat this season. They now go in search of a fourth, having not managed that since a run of ten straight victories between January and early April.
That impressive run saw the side recover what at the time seemed an insurmountable 14 point gap to Manchester City (albeit with a game in hand) as the title race was revived. A similar run is required here if the Reds are to once again reel in the teams above them.
The Reds currently sit 6th place, 5 points off the final Champions League spot and a whopping 15 points off the summit. Friday night is simply must win if Jürgen Klopp’s side are to generate momentum for the second half of the season.
Opponents Leicester suffered a horrendous start to the campaign themselves. Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was on the brink as The Foxes lost six of their opening seven league fixtures. Their first victory didn’t arrive until October!
There was a turnaround in form before the break however, with The Foxes winning four of their last five league games preceding the World Cup. They managed to keep four clean sheets in that run as well, letting in only the one goal (in a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City).
The break seems to have checked their momentum however, with high-flying Newcastle easily brushing them aside at the King Power on Boxing Day. Three unanswered goals in the first half told the story of a side that struggled to get going after a long break.
We can expect a bit of a response on Friday night though. Exactly a year ago today, the Foxes ended Liverpool’s long unbeaten run courtesy an Ademola Lookman second half winner. The Reds will not want to take them lightly.
On their last trip to Anfield, a Diogo Jota brace made the difference in a tight game. Jürgen Klopp has never lost a home game to Leicester since taking charge seven years ago. The German has taken charge of seven league games against them at Anfield, overseeing six wins and a draw.
That draw was a particularly costly one, as Liverpool went on to finish a point behind Manchester City in the 2018/19 title race. The Reds need the three points on Friday to spark their top four charge this time around. We can expect Jamie Vardy and co to make it as difficult as possible.
It should be a good game. Rodgers will no doubt set his side up to soak up pressure and hit on the break with the pace of Harvey Barnes and Vardy. Whether a defence that has let in 28 goals already this campaign (the 4th most in the league) can keep the Reds at bay remains to be seen.
James Milner (hamstring) and Firmino (calf) remain out. Curtis Jones should be back in training if Klopp’s last update is anything to go by. Diaz (knee), Jota (calf) and Arthur (thigh) remain long term absentees. Ibou Konaté is back however, with the 23 year old resuming training on Monday following World Cup exertions.
For Leicester, James Maddison remains out. The midfielder is still struggling with an unspecified injury and is set to see a specialist. Dennis Praet is also out with a back injury he sustained against Newcastle. James Justin, Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira and Jonny Evans remain unavailable.
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