On Saturday, we will see two sides with formidable attacking verve and equally flimsy defences go head to head in the 21st game week of the season. Leicester City travel to Liverpool to try and win their first game there since 1999-2000. History, as well as current form suggests that this is going to be a high-scoring game, quite possibly a thriller like the game at the King Power stadium back in September.
Liverpool come into this game with great confidence and form, having dispatched Swansea 5-0 on Boxing Day evening. However, they should be wary of overconfidence as on the other four occasions when they have scored 4 or more without a reply this season, they have dropped points in the next match. This has happened after Arsenal (home), Maribor (away) Spartak Moscow (home) and Bournemouth (away). However, the Reds’ spirits will also be high due to the signing of Virgil van Dijk announced on Wednesday. The Dutch defender is not available for the Leicester game or the following game, but the news of a long-term transfer pursuit becoming successful in itself can boost spirits. Not that they need too much lifting either. The Reds are scoring freely, at will; they have been very stingy with goals at home this season and they are unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions since their loss to Spurs.
On the other hand, Leicester come into this game having given away a one-goal lead at Vicarage Road to hand Watford a 2-1 victory on the Boxing Day. They have lost three and drawn one in the last four games in all competitions, with their last win coming over the Saints away from home earlier in December. However, the Foxes can take solace from the fact that even with during this recent winless run they have played very well against the bigger teams. They have held both the Manchester clubs to a score-draw in 90 minutes during this period. While Vardy and Mahrez are not contributing goals at the rate at which did so in the title-winning season but they are having a good season nevertheless – contributing 20 goals in 20 games between the two of them. Claude Puel will need both of them to fire at Anfield, if he expects his side to shave any points off Liverpool on Saturday.
For Liverpool, Jordan Henderson is now out till February, while Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno are also recovering from their injuries. Daniel Sturridge is also doubtful for a start on Saturday. Klopp will likely continue to rotate his squad to keep them fresh, especially with the next game coming up in mere 48 hours. Due to this, we can expect everyone including James Milner, Sadio Mane, Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana and Dominic Solanke to get a start on Saturday. Klopp might even start without his Brazilian stars, making them available from the bench.
For Leicester, defenders Robert Huth and Danny Simpson are unavailable due to injuries. Daniel Amartey is available following his suspension against Manchester United but he might not start. For Adrien Silva, this is the last match that he has to sit out due to the botched transfer in the summer.
- Historically, in all competitions, Liverpool have played Leicester 109 times winning 46, drawing 24, and losing 39 games. In the Premier League, the Reds have played the Foxes 23 times, winning 11, drawing 5, and losing 7 times. However, at home Liverpool have lost only thrice to Leicester in the league, the last of the losses occurring in May of the year 2000.
- Over the Premier League history, Reds have scored 1.48 goals per match against the Foxes while conceding 1.09 per match in return. However, over the last three Premier League games, those averages have been tossed out completely as the two teams have scored 14 goals in those matches at the combined rate of 4.7 goals per game.
- If any side in the Premier League has dominated Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, it has been Leicester. Under the German’s reign, Liverpool have lost three games to Leicester – the most against any side.
- Liverpool have conceded just three goals at Anfield this season so far. This is their joint best tally at this stage of a Premier League season, matching their similar feat from 2006-07.
For the majority of the campaign so far, Salah was the leading goal scorer in the Premier League for this season. But in last two matches, Harry Kane has overtaken Salah and gone three goals ahead of Salah at 18 goals. At the same time, Salah has not scored for over 100 minutes. For someone who is running at the rate of 0.74 expected goals per 90 minutes, these facts can mean only one thing. He is expected to score at least once when he plays next. While his chances of equaling Kane are slim, he should be able to narrow the lead on Saturday. His pace, combined with his ever-improving accuracy should be enough for him to negotiate with Leicester’s shaky defence. However, just in case he does not find the back of the net, he can still be expected to assist a goal or two – just like he did against Swansea on Tuesday.
Leicester have scored eight goals in the last four Premier League games against Liverpool and six of them have been scored by Jamie Vardy. Even in the Foxes’ capitulation at Anfield last season, he managed to get on the score-sheet by pouncing on an erroneous pass from Lucas Leiva. In addition to the fact that he loves to score against the Reds, his expected goals per 90 of 0.47 and expected assists per 90 0.10 indicate the possibility that he will extend his goal tally against Liverpool on Saturday.
Although Leicester have caused a lot of grief for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp recently, including knocking them out of this season’s League Cup, most of those moments have come away from Anfield. At home Liverpool are in great form, and have a great record against the Foxes. On Saturday, we can expect Leicester to ask some questions of Liverpool’s defense, but Liverpool’s attackers will ask far more questions of Leicester’s defenders. Liverpool’s more prolific attack could be the difference on Saturday, driving them to another win and ending the year in a victorious manner.