This will be another difficult test for Leicester as they come up against only one of the two sides that have managed to beat them in the league this season. Liverpool have been inconsistent under Jurgen Klopp, but the opportunity to do the double over Leicester is a good one for them, and it could inject impetus into their season. The club have been on a good run of results over the last seven days, and remain in both cup competitions. However they need to push on in the league, as their current position of 7th will be a disappointment.
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It is incredible that Leicester City are top of the Premier League in February and although a lot of people still think it is unlikely that they can maintain their form, there has to be a point where they enter into the discussions for the title. Their hard working, all-action style of play has been refreshing, while the formerly unfashionable 4-4-2 has made a comeback under Claudio Ranieri, who has proven his critics wrong over the last six months. There are talks that the club could bring in Loic Remy before the transfer deadline, which would be a boost for the club as he has the quality to make an impact straight away and could form a good partnership with Jamie Vardy.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have yet to do much business in the window under Jurgen Klopp, which will be a concern as it is obvious that the current set of players doesn’t suit the German’s style of play. The comparisons that the media are making between Klopp and Rodgers in terms of results are unfair, as the new Liverpool manager doesn’t have the tools that he would like to be available to him and is having to use players who he would rather see leave the club. After a very nervy, yet entertaining draw against Norwich, Klopp will be hoping that his side can go on a run in the league and try and challenge for the Champions League spots.
Leicester saw their unbeaten run end at Anfield earlier on Boxing Day, with Christian Benteke scoring the goal to secure Liverpool a narrow home victory. In the corresponding fixture last season, Liverpool were comfortable 3-1 winners, thanks to goals from Adam Lallana, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Meanwhile Simon Mignolet scored an own goal to give the hosts a first half lead. Wes Morgan was sent off on the day for Leicester.
Jeffrey Schlupp could make a return to the squad after a hamstring injury. Apart from that, Leicester have a fully fit squad and will be raring to go after having the weekend off, due to no longer being in the FA Cup.
Liverpool are top of the injury list with eight injuries. Jordan Henderson is a doubt for this match with an ankle injury. Philippe Coutinho, Martin Skrtel and Divock Origi will all return this month, but this fixture will come too soon. Daniel Sturridge is still injured with Klopp not being sure of his return date. Danny Ings and Joe Gomez remain long term absentees.
N’Golo Kante has been one of the signings of the season in the Premier League, with his dominating performances in the midfield allowing Leicester to thrive using the 4-4-2 formation. He has one goal and two assists, but his role is to win possession back and give the ball to the more talented attacking players, which he excels in. Although the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have taken the headlines, it is the midfield displays of Kante, which give Leicester the balance to play with two strikers. His pass success rate of 82.1% shows that he is good on the ball and rarely loses it as he normally looks to play it simple. However, he does have an attacking side to his game, which is seen with some of his intelligent runs in the final third, but he is best when his side doesn’t have possession. He is an effective tackler, while his reading of the game to make interceptions is up there with the best holding midfielders in the league. He will be key on Tuesday as Liverpool will dominate possession and Kante must get the ball to the attacking players as often as possible.
The Brazilian struggled this season to begin with, and Brendan Rodgers didn’t know how to get the best out of his big money signing. It looked like he could go the same way as the likes of Lazar Markovic, but the arrival of Jurgen Klopp was always going to be a huge boost for Firmino. Like Emre Can, Klopp has a good knowledge of the Brazilian’s game from his time as Borussia Dortmund manager, which has allowed him to find the perfect role for the player at Anfield. Firmino has been being used as a false nine, and he has thrived in the position, looking to be Liverpool’s main goal threat in recent matches. He was especially brilliant against Arsenal, as he showed he could make an impact in the big matches with two goals. He has five goals and four assists which is a good return, considering his slow start. Firmino has four goals and one assist in his last three league matches, while he also put in two man of the match displays over this period. He will be a threat on Tuesday and his movement will cause problems for the Leicester defence.
This will be one of the more entertaining fixtures of the week, with both clubs playing entertaining football. Liverpool will be tiring after such a hectic schedule of fixtures with another FA Cup replay not being what the club needed. Leicester will be fresh and this difference in fatigue could have a telling impact on the match. I expect both sides to score, with Leicester being the more likely winners, due to their high intensity, which Liverpool will find difficult to deal with, especially with tiring legs.
Leicester 2-1 Liverpool