Liverpool make the trip to Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime, but do the hosts believe they can cause an upset? Or will it be four wins in four for the visitors?
The Reds arrive at the King Power Stadium looking for four Premier League wins in a row heading into the first international break of the season.
It has been a perfect start to the campaign for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, but Saturday’s game could be their sternest examination yet.
Leicester remain one of the best teams outside of the so-called ‘big six’ and the King Power is never an easy ground to leave with all three points.
With the match looming, we spoke to Rob Hayes from For Fox Sake podcast (@FFSPod) to get his thoughts both teams and the match itself.
It’s six points from three matches so far—are you happy with Leicester’s start?
Very much so.
I think if you had tried to predict the results and points haul from the opening three matches then six would have been what most Leicester fans came up with.
But winning two consecutive games in the Premier League, as well as the comfortable 4-0 victory over Fleetwood Town, means that confidence is high at this early stage.
Claude Puel is still struggling to win over some fans and critics, so the pressure is on to keep the results coming.
Who has stood out most for the Foxes and why?
There have been a lot of good performances across the board, but I’ve been impressed with James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira, particularly as the spotlight is shining more brightly on them as new signings.
Maddison is a creative and confident young man who is new to this level of football, but looks very assured and already has a goal to his name.
Pereira is not just a utility man down the right-hand side, he has all the attributes of a right-back and a right winger rolled into one. He has contributed two assists in three games.
Papy Mendy has been a breath of fresh air in the centre of midfield, too.
He’s been at the club for a few years but injuries and falling out of favour with certain managers have meant that we have hardly seen him in a Leicester shirt.
Puel put a lot of faith in him at Nice, and I’m very impressed with how busy and robust he is in the middle of the park alongside the ever-improving Wilfred Ndidi.
Has there been anything of note to report on Danny Ward yet?
I was very happy with the acquisition of Danny Ward in the summer—he’s probably one of the best backup goalkeepers we’ve had at the club in terms of how close he is to pushing for the No. 1 spot.
Competition can only be healthy in that department.
He had his first competitive outing in the League Cup on Tuesday night and only really had one save to make, but it was pretty early on in the game and will certainly have helped him settle down if there were any pre-match jitters.
I still think most goalkeepers would struggle to displace Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks, but Ward will get chances in cup competitions and as injury cover.
I feel very safe in the knowledge that he will be an excellent custodian when called upon.
What have you made of Liverpool’s start?
They’ve looked excellent. I think they’re already a much better team than they were last season, and that is a real danger to every other Premier League side.
Last season you would have always backed them to score goals, but early form would suggest they’re a lot more savvy now.
Alisson could be a crucial cog in what was arguably Liverpool’s weakest area last season, Naby Keita looks like he’s been playing in this division for years and I think the Reds will be an awful lot closer to the top of the table come the end of the campaign.
Starting with the same XI for the opening three games has also helped them settle quickly.
Anyone you fear for the Reds, in particular?
Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire should be able to keep Roberto Firmino relatively quiet, but when you’ve got two other world-class attackers coming at you from either side, it could be a long afternoon for us.
Whether it’s Pereira or Daniel Amartey at right-back, they will have a job on their hands, as will left-back Ben Chilwell.
The England U21 international has his plaudits for his ability to venture forward, but his defensive capabilities will be put to the test on Saturday.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, where will the key battles take place?
Aside from trying to keep Liverpool’s front three quiet, I think there will be an intriguing battle in the centre of midfield.
Ndidi and Mendy can cover a lot of ground and are extremely good at retrieving and recycling possession, but as a duo they risk being overrun by the Reds’ three-man midfield.
For that reason, the duties of whoever plays in the No. 10 role will be massively important if City are to get anything out of the game.
Maddison has started there in all three league games so far, but Puel could possibly bring in the experience of Adrien Silva to try and shore up the midfield.
He would still play as the more advanced of the midfield three, but with the added responsibility of assisting Mendy and Ndidi.
If Liverpool get time and space in the centre it will allow them to find their attackers more readily, which ultimately will lead to Leicester‘s demise.
Finally, hit us with a prediction…
I’m struggling to see us getting anything from the game, particularly with Jamie Vardy absent.
I’m usually pretty optimistic, but I think it will be 3-1 to Liverpool.