The last Premier League game week before the first international break of the season is upon us and to kick it off, Liverpool travel to Leicester City on Saturday afternoon. Liverpool will be hoping to keep their winning start going, while the Foxes will be hoping to string a series of wins themselves. In the recent past, these two teams have rarely played out a low-scoring game, and another entertaining game is on the cards for Saturday as well.
Leicester have prepared for this game by soundly beating Fleetwood Town in the Carabao Cup Second Round by four goals to none. After failing to overcome Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the first game week, the Foxes have won three games in three attempts in all competitions, albeit the opponents they have defeated have been lower league or are likely to finish in the lower half of the table. Although in absence of Jamie Vardy, Claude Puel does have a problem as his first-choice attacker is missing. However, Kelechi Iheanacho did make a case for himself by scoring the third goal in that mid-week rout of Fleetwood Town.
Liverpool on the other hand have been well-rested as they did not have a second-round fixture in the League Cup. The highlight of their week was the Champions League Group Stage draw on Thursday evening that pitted them in Group C against Paris Saint Germain, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda). Liverpool have had a fairly easy start to their Premier League campaign and it can be said that Saturday’s match will be a bit tougher for them compared to the first three games. Liverpool’s defence has looked incredibly solid, and their attack, although not as prolific as last season has delivered timely goals in the three games so far.
- Leicester have won three of their last four home meetings with Liverpool in all competitions, although they lost this fixture 3-2 last season. In fact, Liverpool did a double over Leicester last season, winning both the games by a one-goal margin.
- If they win at the King Power stadium, Liverpool will have won the first four games in a Premier League campaign for the first time. The last time they achieved that feat in the top flight was in 1990/91.
- Liverpool come into the game having kept three successive clean sheets at the start of the season. If Alisson manages one more clean sheet on Saturday, he will be the fourth goalkeeper in Premier League history to keep a clean sheet in his first four games, after Alex Manninger (first six), Anders Lindegaard (first five) and Jose Reina (first four).
- Leicester City love to score late goals. They scored 8 of the 37 goals scored in or after the 90th minute last season and they have already scored two such goals this season in only three games. Liverpool too like to score these late goals – having scored four such goals last season and one this season so far.
Harry Maguire had a very good World Cup and has also had a good start to his league campaign. He has a goal from a single shot, and he also has one clean sheet to his name. He has won 60% of his aerial duels and also has a high number of crosses, blocks and interceptions. His aerial presence can also bother Liverpool who have always been susceptible to set pieces. For Leicester to have a positive outcome – a point or three on Saturday, Maguire will be needed both in defence as well as in attack.
Sadio Mane did not have the best of the games against Brighton last Saturday. However, he has scored 3 out of Liverpool’s seven goals in the league so far. His xG per 90 and xA per 90 are 0.66 and 0.18, which means he is expected to score or assist at the rate of almost one goal per 90-minute appearance. In three appearances against the Foxes for the Reds, Mane has scored one and assisted two goals. He was suspended for the same fixture last season but he did manage an assist in the game at Anfield.
For Leicester, Jamie Vardy is out due to his red-card suspension. This paves the way for Iheanacho to start. So, Claude Puel has to make several choices in his team selection, including who will team up with Harry Maguire in the defence. Similarly, he will possibly drop Daniel Amartey at right-back and start with Ricardo Pereira.
For Liverpool, Lovren and Oxlade-Chamberlain are out due to long-term injuries. Otherwise, Klopp too has a fit squad to pick his side from. Although he alluded to the possibility of rotating his squad for this game, it is not very likely because his starting XI from last Saturday are well-rested and may not need to be rotated at present.
It is unlikely that a Leicester side without Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez will be able to trouble Liverpool much. The Reds should be able to make it four wins in four games, although possibly their clean-sheet streak could end on Saturday.