Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has backed Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Ranieri leads his side to Anfield for Saturday’s evening kickoff, with Liverpool playing out their first home game of 2016/17.
The Reds and the Foxes are currently level on points in the league, having both taken four points from their opening three games.
Leicester are defending their title this season, but will also have to navigate a Champions League campaign that begins next week away to Club Brugge.
This has seen their odds of securing more Premier League success drop, and addressing reporters ahead of the trip to Merseyside, Ranieri highlighted Liverpool as a major contender for the title.
“Liverpool are one of my favourites to win the league. They are ready to fight for the title,” he said.
“Liverpool are a very good team and on Saturday we have a very good match.
“We go there to try and win. We are the champions. It’ll be difficult for us but also for them.”
Whether Jurgen Klopp‘s side are truly capable of fighting at the top end of the league remains to be seen, given their fluctuation in form so far this season.
But the Reds find themselves in a much stronger position after the international break, with the fitness of a host of key players improving.
Loris Karius and Joel Matip, for example, are now both back after pre-season injuries, and will likely go on to play a major role in Klopp’s defence in the future.
Furthermore, the likes of Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Georginio Wijnaldum returned from international duty without injury, as well as England quartet Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge.
Klopp has a variety of options to select from for Liverpool’s first Anfield outing of 2016/17, but so does Ranieri, particularly in attack.
Leicester secured the £30 million signing of Algerian striker Islam Slimani at the end of the summer transfer window, with the 28-year-old joining Jamie Vardy, Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa as options up front.
Saturday’s clash will provide the Reds with a test of their credentials, and they can prove them with a home win over the champions.