After two weeks without a game, Liverpool return to action against fallen champions Leicester City on Monday night. The Reds will hope to continue their resurgence, but upheaval at Leicester means they could have a tougher time than expected; here’s everything you need to know about the Foxes.
Premier League form: D – L – L – L – L – L
League position: 18th
Last win: 1-0 vs West Ham, Dec 31
At home: Five wins, three draws, four defeats
Leicester had continued this season as they played out all of last year, at least in terms of tactical approach: 4-4-2 across the board, looking to utilise the wide men and fast attackers… but there the similarities ended.
Individuals have been out-of-form, some have returned to their pre-title level indeed, and they have had real problems in both penalty boxes.
Above all, though, the biggest change will now be the absence of title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri, sacked just ahead of the match against the Reds.
The predictable bounce that teams experience after parting ways with a manager is a factor to be aware of, particularly given media reports that players had become unhappy with Ranieri’s presence; the liberation and relief, to an extent, that comes with a change of boss is a genuine issue to contend with.
In terms of Leicester’s attacking play, counter down the flanks with pace from Riyad Mahrez or Marc Albrighton is an area Liverpool have previously struggled with against teams, while Jamie Vardy’s recent goal in Europe could boost his confidence significantly, too.
The Foxes haven’t scored in their last six league games, however, showing where their downfall has been, and there’s no sign of a new manager being in place before kick-off as yet.
LFC can exploit…
The rock-solid partnership of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan last season has morphed this term into a merely rocky one.
Morgan in particular has reprised his former role of bulky misfit, playing above his true level, and his campaign has been blighted by errors.
There also hasn’t been a regular midfield pairing and, perhaps more to the point, without N’Golo Kante this year a Leicester duo has never been enough to control the game anyway. If they stick with a double pivot, Liverpool’s three can swarm and suffocate.
Leicester are only still in with a shout of progression in Europe because of the heroics of Kasper Schmeichel in goal, making numerous saves. Given the Reds’ propensity to miss chances and not show a clinical edge at times, an in-form goalkeeper isn’t what they want to come up against.
With that in mind, Roberto Firmino has only scored two (in the same game) in 2017 and, while the rest of his game is looking impressive, the Brazilian could do with burying one of the many chances which fall his way.
Islam Slimani could miss out with injury, but everyone else is available. Depending on who selects the team, however, there could feasibly be far more changes, in personnel and in system.
Possible XI: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Daniel Amartey, Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy.