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“Disastrous” set-pieces & Tielemans key for Foxes – The view from Leicester

As Liverpool prepare to head to Leicester on Tuesday evening, we get the lowdown on the Foxes’ current fortunes under Brendan Rodgers.

The Reds are well-rested after their Boxing Day clash with Leeds was postponed, as they look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s last match saw them knock Rodgers’ men out of the League Cup in memorable fashion and now they face the Foxes in the league.

Ahead of Tuesday’s match, we spoke to Leicester fan Jamie Thorpe (@thorpie54) to hear about Leicester‘s dip in form, the Reds’ title hopes and much more.

 

How do you assess Leicester’s season so far?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 1, 2019: Leicester City's Youri Tielemans during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Everton FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s not been an easy season to follow Leicester.

After rightfully getting ourselves into the top six in consecutive seasons, expectations are understandably higher and it’s fair to say we haven’t come close to matching them just yet.

I do appreciate that those clubs challenging for the top six this year have higher budgets and deeper squads, but even so, our relative performance has been hugely disappointing.

Injuries have disrupted our season, as per usual, but our defensive fragility is a huge worry, especially our much-maligned set-pieces.

Going forward we are a threat, especially if James Maddison is on form, but without a solid platform to build on, we are always going to struggle.

 

Is there a feeling that Rodgers is reaching the end at Leicester, or is that unfair?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Leicester City's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is probably the first time Brendan Rodgers has drawn a significant amount of criticism from the home support and it is certainly not unjustified.

I won’t bang on too much about set-pieces, but our defence in these situations has been absolutely disastrous and our sheer openness at times means we are often chasing games.

This is definitely a coaching issue and something that he is culpable for.

Recruitment has also raised a lot of questions, Jannick Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand, in particular.

That being said, he still has credit in the bank and definitely deserves time to rectify these issues, but the clock is beginning to tick.

 

What are your thoughts on the unsavoury chants from Foxes fans at Anfield last Wednesday?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool supporters' banners on the Spion Kop before the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I did not hear it myself, but would absolutely condemn any Leicester fan for this. It’s an outdated and inaccurate view that is as unsavoury now as it was in the 1980s.

With all the good work the football community has done to combat food poverty – with much of this excellent work taking place in Liverpool such as Fans Supporting Foodbanks – these chants are something that I, and a vast majority of Leicester fans, want no part of.

 

Who have been Leicester’s three best players this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2019: Leicester City's James Maddison celebrates scoring the first equalising goal with team-mate Ayoze Pérez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

James Maddison is one. His return to form has directly coincided with our performances taking a definite upturn.

When on top of his game, he can be nigh on unplayable and his link-up play with Jamie Vardy is exceptional.

Youri Tielemans also deserves mention, he has been Player of the Season by a country mile.

Despite a series of poor performances from those around him, the Belgian midfielder has remained consistent, classy and committed.

A genuine joy to watch.

Last but not least, Luke Thomas. The young Leicester local has been forced into a regular starting role much earlier than we would have expected, but thanks to injuries he started the season at left-back.

Despite his relative inexperience, he has put in a series of strong performances – he has been the most consistent in a constantly changing back-line.

A special mention to Patson Daka, too, who has settled in ever so well.

 

Who has struggled?

Caglar Soyuncu.

He has been a shadow of the player that earned cult status so quickly after he replaced Harry Maguire.

Even having the returning Jonny Evans back alongside him hasn’t quite fixed things and if we had replacements able to step in I would imagine he would have been dropped.

I still have faith in his potential, but he would benefit from stability.

 

Turning our attention to Liverpool, how are you assessing their title chances?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s obviously a three-horse race, and while Chelsea have slightly faltered in recent games, Liverpool and Man City have been relentless.

City probably have a deeper squad, but Liverpool have the league’s best in Mo Salah so it’s impossible to call at the moment.

Could AFCON have a telling impact?

 

Apart from Salah, which Reds player would you most like to see at Leicester?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 239th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. Liverpool won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There’s obviously quality in abundance throughout the Liverpool XI, but it’s hard to look past Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman would fix most of our issues, too.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 13, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara (R) and Leicester City's Harvey Barnes during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

I simply have no idea which of our defence are even fit at this point – at the time of writing we have one fit centre-back and no right-back, so this obviously presents a real issue.

It will mean that the centre of midfield is absolutely key if we are to stand any chance at all.

If Tielemans can exert his influence on the game and stop Liverpool completely dictating proceedings then we have an opportunity.

Harvey Barnes, Maddison, Vardy and Daka all excel on the counter-attack, but ultimately, they need the ball in order to do so!

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Leicester 1-3 Liverpool. It’s going to be tough for us with a depleted squad.

I think Vardy will get his obligatory goal against the top six, though.

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