Chilwell and Maddison, Liverpool’s title hopes & a key midfield battle – The view from Leicester

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Leicester make the trip to Anfield on Wednesday night, but do Foxes supporters believe they can dent Liverpool’s title hopes?

The Reds welcome Claude Puel’s side to Merseyside, following an 11-day break that saw Jurgen Klopp and his players head off to Dubai for a training camp.

Leicester are a side capable of causing the top teams problems, and Liverpool’s 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium in September was a stern examination.

Klopp’s men are undoubted favourites to prevail, however, as they look to keep up their remarkable 100 percent record against non-‘top six’ teams this season.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to the For Fox Sake Podcast (@FFSPod) to get their thoughts on both sides’ seasons and how Wednesday’s meeting could pan out.

 

Leicester are ninth in the Premier League – how happy are you with their season so far?

Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho wins the ball off Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker in the area leading to his side's first goal

My opinion on our season so far mirrors our form really: indifferent.

Ultimately, if we’re somewhere between seventh and 10th at the end of the campaign then that will be perfectly adequate, but the problem is, Leicester fans have had the taste of success and are hungry for more.

It’s been incredibly frustrating to see us put in the odd excellent performance and impress in patches within games, yet be completely lacking in intensity and ideas the rest of the time.

Claude Puel is not particularly popular with the fans at the moment, so regardless of whether or not his overall long-term plan for the development of the squad is on track, the supporters, including myself, are keen to see some of the short-term issues addressed sooner rather than later.

 

How is life at the King Power after the sad passing of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha? How has it impacted on the team’s form?

Leicester City chairman and member of King Power Racing Co Ltd Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

It was a difficult time for everybody associated with the club and I have been extremely proud of the dignified way in which the club, the city and the world of football dealt with the tragedy.

When the players first set foot back on a football pitch, the instant reaction was a passionate one, epitomised by Demarai Gray’s goal celebration away at Cardiff.

The goalless draw at home to Burnley a week later then proved to be a poignant and emotional return to the King Power.

Have the results and performances since then been affected by the passing of Khun Vichai? I’m not so sure.

The supporters were desperate to win a trophy this season in his name, but losing to Man City in the League Cup and then seeing our fringe players being unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup at Newport soon put paid to that, sparking further frustration with Puel’s style and team selection.

 

Which three players have stood out most for Leicester this season?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 1, 2018: Leicester City's Ben Chilwell and Liverpool's Sadio Mane during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think Ricardo Pereira has been a terrific signing and is proving to be really effective down our right-hand side, whether he’s playing at full-back or on the wing.

He has got plenty of industry and a good level of quality to go with it.

I’d like to see him play further forward more often, but with Danny Simpson seemingly past his best, Ricardo has to continue to do a job in defence in the absence of the injured Daniel Amartey.

Ben Chilwell is enjoying an excellent season at left-back, highlighted by his involvement with England’s senior squad in recent internationals.

Some would argue that on current form for club and country, he is right in the mix for being Gareth Southgate’s first choice.

He gets up and down the flank with great energy and has a good understanding with his England youth pals Gray and James Maddison, and I think with him and Ricardo offering so much it would lend itself very well to us trying out wing-backs.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 1, 2018: Leicester City's James Maddison (left) and Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s hard to pick a third, but I’ve got to lean towards Maddison.

Although he has gone off the boil a little bit in recent weeks, he is still right up there among the Premier League‘s best in terms of creating goalscoring opportunities.

Without him in the team we lack any real spark of creativity.

 

And what about Liverpool’s campaign? How impressed have you been?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 19, 2019: Liverpool's Sadio Mane (hidden) celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I have been very impressed.

I said earlier in the season that Liverpool just seemed to have that extra edge to them this time around.

They have a resilience and ability to win games when they’re not firing on all cylinders which has enabled them to remain at the top of the table.

Some quality additions and that extra bit of steel have turned them into real title contenders.

 

Are they going to win the Premier League title?

BRIGHTON AND HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 12, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the winning goal from a penalty kick during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I wonder how many Liverpool fans would answer this question with a definite ‘yes’.

I don’t think I can commit to it.

Man City are so talented and they’ve been relentless in 2019, but I would genuinely love Liverpool to do it. I think the title race has a couple more twists and turns to come yet.

 

Anyone you fear for the Reds on Wednesday, in particular?

BRIGHTON AND HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 12, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) and Said Mane during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How long have you got?

The front three would trouble any defence and I think their fluidity could expose Wes Morgan and whoever his central defensive partner is.

With Harry Maguire being passed fit and Jonny Evans proving to be one of our most solid performers this season, I personally would be tempted to start them both, but I think Puel will keep faith with the skipper.

If fit, Ifear that Virgil van Dijk will rule his back line with supremacy and not give Jamie Vardy a sniff, while Xherdan Shaqiri cannot be discounted either—he has the ability to be a match-winner.

 

Looking ahead to the game, where do you see the key battles taking place?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 1, 2018: Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri and Leicester City's Danny Simpson during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think the key battle will be in the centre of midfield.

Puel played three central midfielders in our victories over Chelsea and City just before Christmas and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case again on Wednesday.

If we manage to take control of the midfield we may just be able to stop some of the supply lines to Liverpool’s front three.

I know that the Reds have got a few problems at right-back so I would like to see us try to take full advantage of whoever plays there, isolating them one-on-one and trying to cause a few problems of our own.

 

Hit us with a prediction…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 1, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I promise I’m not always this pessimistic, but I have to say 3-1 to Liverpool.

I think both teams will score, but I can’t see us outscoring the Reds, especially at Anfield.

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