Leicester v Liverpool – PL Preview

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I spoke about how the previous weekend could offer all sorts of Champions League qualification hope, dependent on how certain results played out. With Liverpool now sitting four points behind Manchester United, it has set up a brilliantly poised final leg of this Premier League campaign. On the flip side, Leicester City are fighting (sort of) for their top flight survival, as relegation becomes more probable with each passing fixture. This fixture has thrown up some damaging results for the Reds in years gone by, with this game threatening to do the same.

The Foxes come into this game on the back of an enthralling 5-3 loss, away to mid table Fulham. Before that tremendous spectacle, they recorded a draw at home against Everton, after a 1-1 draw, when traveling to face fellow relegation fighting Leeds. With just 30 points from 35 games played, the 2015/16 Premier League champions currently sit in 18th place, two points behind Everton and three points short of Nottingham Forest.

In terms of injuries and availability, this Dean Smith led team will be without James Justin, Kelechi Iheanacho, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand. This disastrous final season of Brendan Rodgers, looks like it may be impossible to turnaround, especially with and away fixture against Newcastle and a final day visit from West Ham to follow this game. The former Liverpool boss was given his marching orders (far too late); however, the new interim boss is not prone for rescuing mis-firing teams.

The home sides’ starting line-up may see Danny Ward come back into the side (for Daniel Iversen), after the disappointing five goals conceded last week. Jonny Evans will surely come into the side for this game (for Wout Faes) to partner Çağlar Söyüncü. The fullbacks should see Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira deployed, with the out of form Victor Kristiansen dropping out of the side. A more rigid midfield three may comprise Wilfred Ndidi, Youri Tielemans, and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Boubakary Soumaré will most probably come out of the starting eleven, allowing for a more familiar middle group. The forward line should consist of Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes, and James Maddison. Patson Daka could be the wild card starter, if the Leicester’ City caretaker manager wants to mix up his attacking style.

Liverpool come into this game on the back of six straight victories, with a fairly good shot of making top four. Last week saw the them win 1-0 at Anfield against an impressive Brentford side. The previous match up had them also winning 1-0 at home, in an underwhelming contest against Fulham. Prior to that, came the entertaining (if frustrating) 4-3 home win against Tottenham. If Liverpool were to win out, that would take the 19-time English champions to 71 points. In that event, it would need Manchester United requiring three wins from the four remaining fixtures. Jürgen Klopp’s team currently have 62 points from their 35 games played, sitting 5th in the league table.

In terms of the Liverpool availabilities, Calvin Ramsay and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whilst Naby Keïta will no longer feature. Roberto Firmino is out for at least another week, whereas Thiago Alcântara is now out for the rest of the season. The reds final home game (against Aston Villa) is on the 20th, therefore an opportunity for Bobby, James Milner, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, and Naby, will surely be sought after that game.

Alisson Becker will resume in goal, with Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté retaining their places in central defense. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold should start at fullback, with our hybrid number 66 likely to spend most of his time in central midfield. Jordan Henderson may come back into the starting eleven, alongside Fabinho and Curtis Jones. The attack will surely see Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, and Luis Díaz selected. Darwin and Diogo Jota have struggled for consistency of late, therefore with so much riding on the result of this game, the manager must pick his most competitive front three.

Leicester do not seem to know how to play their way out of danger, despite having such a strong group of players. Usually, this team would sit back and frustrate, though this game simply must see the relegation threatened team go for the win. Liverpool seems to have found a better means of nullifying the common counterattack, therefore a more proactive home performance will likely be incoming. The reds will dominate possession, whilst looking for an early breakthrough. The playmakers’ ability of our Columbian flyer could well be the difference maker, with the likelihood of space behind an unsure home backline.

With the need for points on both the managers’ minds, the experience and knowledge of how to chase something down should see Liverpool victorious. You get the sense that vital players will be able to push the away side to a 7th straight win, making the final two weeks of the season an incredible watch. Leicester looks doomed, especially if they do not win this game. Given the gravity of this result, it could make for a very interesting game of football.

Player to watch – Luis Díaz

Score Prediction;

Leicester 1 – 3 Liverpool

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