Leicester City host Liverpool at the King Power in what is the Foxes’ first competitive match after the club sacked their title winning manager, Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester City’s title defence has been shocking; perhaps even more shocking than their title triumph last season. No one had expected the Foxes to be a contender again but neither did anyone comprehend that they would be battling for survival in the league.
And their poor form has taken its first scalp in Claudio Ranieri, who was let go of by the Foxes board. Liverpool, on the other hand, have seen a promising start to the season being undone by a poor start to the new calendar year. The Reds are now aiming to at least secure a top four finish.
We at The Hard Tackle explore the various news surrounding the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Leicester City FC
In the absence of Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare has been entrusted with the responsibility to steady the sinking ship. The caretaker manager is hopeful that both Islam Slimani and Leonardo Ulloa will be fit enough for the match while also stating that the duo are set to be assessed before the match in order to determine their availability.
Slimani, especially, has been immense for the Foxes this season but he hasn’t featured for them since returning from the African Cup of Nations. The Algerian trained with the team in Seville on Thursday and is likely to be fit in time to be a part of the matchday squad against the Reds.
Demarai Gray was one of the positives and could return to the lineup under Shakespeare. Other than the striker duo of Slimani and Ulloa, the Foxes do not have any injury issues, which would be music to the ears of Craig Shakespeare as he hopes to turn the Foxes’ fortunes around.
Probable Lineup ( 4-4-2 ): Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Gray; Slimani, Vardy
Daniel Sturridge is doubtful for the match and his continued struggles with injuries is reportedly starting to test the patience of Jurgen Klopp. Elsewhere, Dejan Lovren is the only short-term doubt while the trio of Danny Ings, Marko Grujic and Ovie Ejaria are still set to sere the sidelines for a decent while.
Liverpool showed glimpses of their early season form in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur and he result also highlighted the importance of Sadio Mane at Anfield. The player ran the show and is expected to again be the driving force in attack.
Probable Lineup ( 4-3-3 ): Mignolet; Clyne, Lucas Leiva, Matip, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho
1. Liverpool Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.57
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
1. Jamie Vardy to score anytime @ 3.40
1. Leicester’s last three goals against Liverpool have all been scored by Jamie Vardy. In fact, he is the only Leicester player to score against Liverpool at the King Power.
2. Unfortunately, Jamie Vardy is out of form at the moment. The Englishman has scored ins just 1 out of his last 18 games for the Foxes.
3. If Leicester manage to lose the game, the Foxes would become the first defending top-flight champions to lose 15 games in their title defence season, after Leeds United achieved the same feat in the 1992-93 campaign
4. Leicester have lost their last five games. Another loss and they will have repeated the feat of being the first defending top-flight champions to lose six consecutive games, since Everton did it in the 1928-29 season.
5. A win for Liverpool would see them jump to 3rd on the table while only a Leicester victory will be sufficient for the Foxes to escape the relegation zone for the moment.
Leicester City 2 – 2 Liverpool
There have been rumours of multiple meetings between the players and the board, which ultimately led to the sacking of Claudio Ranieri. And, if that indeed is the case, these players are expected to perform with reinvigorated vim and vigor, which could lead to a few problems for Jurgen Klopp and his men.
But, given Mane’s return to the lineup, it is expected that the Reds could prove to be too much for the Foxes. We, however, have tipped for the game to end in a draw, which could very well be the case if both the teams show up or otherwise.