A depleted Liverpool side face a tricky test against Leicester this weekend as the Premier League(EPL) returns.

The reigning champions are a point behind the Foxes after eight games with both sides having impressed so far this season.

The Reds drew 1-1 with Manchester City before the international break while Leicester beat Wolves.

This Sunday’s game will be a big one for both but Jurgen Klopp and Brendan Rodgers have plenty to think about before kick-off.

Brendan Rodgers will know his team are capable of getting one over on his former employers, and make a title statement in the process.

When & Where

7:15pm GMT kick-off on Sunday, November 22, 2020

Anfield, Liverpool

Team News

Liverpool saw Joe Gomez join Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho in the treatment room after the defender suffered a knee injury in training for England.

Gomez could well miss the remainder of the campaign, just as Van Dijk is expected to.

Liverpool are also sweating on the fitness of another centre-back, Rhys Williams, who was left out of the England U21 side on Tuesday night as a precaution as he nurses a knock.

Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, contracted COVID-19 during the break and will have to remain in self-isolation for this match.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is also expected to miss out with a calf problem which forced him to pull out of England duty.

Jordan Henderson and Andrew Robertson both picked up niggles on international duty, but are expected to be fit to play.

Thiago Alcantara could also return to play some part with the summer signing expected back in full training this week after his recent injury.

For Leicester, Wesley Fofana is a doubt with a knee injury while fellow defenders Timothy Castagne and Caglar Soyuncu are still out.

Kasper Schmeichel will also need a fitness test after a knock to the head.

Wilfred Ndidi, Ricardo Pereira and Daniel Amartey are long-term injury absentees.

Jamie Vardy has scored eight goals in eight games so far this season and will be well rested for this one having had the international break off.

Head to Head

  • Liverpool wins: 50
  • Leicester wins: 39
  • Draws: 25
  • Last meeting:Leicester 0-4 Liverpool, December 26, 2019

Match Facts (OPTA Facts)

Leicester’s 3-4-2-1 could stump Liverpool

Rodgers has deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation throughout this season, a tactic that Liverpool generally don’t enjoy playing against. A system with a back three allows the defenders to go man-for-man against Klopp’s narrow front three, while the wing-backs have licence to step out of the back line and close down those dangerous Liverpool full-backs.

Consequently, the most immediately plausible pattern of this game is one of relatively stale Liverpool possession. Rodgers will be happy to concede more of the ball than usual and will cautiously disengage his press, leaving the hosts with the difficult task of breaking down a well-drilled back five. That Leicester have so many defensive injuries – Wilfried Ndidi, Calgar Soyuncu, and Wesley Fofana all miss out – only adds to the sense the Leicester manager will preach caution.

In a formation that often drops into a 5-4-1, Leicester may manage to sit off Liverpool and kill the game. However, what will start as a cagey match is unlikely to stay that way.

Leicester’s vertical attacks suggest an open game

The most important tactical element of Rodgers’ Leicester is their ability to explosively lift the tempo from calm possession football to incisive vertical attacks. The aim is to lull the opposition with careful passing (and with Liverpool’s defensive injuries, the hosts will not press as aggressively as usual) before suddenly hitting a direct ball between the lines into James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, or Youri Tielemans.

These three players pick up the ball on the half-turn and look to play Jamie Vardy in behind, and it is easy to envisage this tactic pushing Liverpool back on the counter-attack. Once this pattern is established, the game should start to open up as Liverpool launch counter-counters.

Leicester tried to keep it tight against Manchester City earlier in the season and managed to win 5-2 in a chaotic contest. Similarly their 4-1 defeat of Leeds United was end-to-end; there is something about the verticality in Leicester’s 3-4-2-1 that makes for very entertaining games. 

As you’d expect for pretty much any Liverpool game at Anfield, they’re odds-on. Avoid defeat, and the Reds will set a new club record of 64 home league matches unbeaten.

Not since Foxes old boy Riyad Mahrez stood over a penalty in the dying moments of Manchester City’s goalless draw at Anfield in October 2018 has a team had a better chance of ending that run.

Leicester, who entered the international break top of the table, have seen their price shorten slightly over the past few days but they can still be taken at 14/5 with plenty of bookies. The Foxes might be heading to the Premier League champions, but the Reds’ squad has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks.

Look at this fixture in recent seasons – it’s been tight. James Milner’s stoppage-time penalty gave Liverpool a 2-1 win last term, it was 1-1 in 2018/19, and the season before that Salah scored late on to complete a Reds turnaround and pinch another 2-1 victory.

Liverpool’s defensive injuries help Vardy

And if that happens, Vardy should be the star player. His ability to find weak spots in the opposition defence and make well-timed runs in behind has already got him eight league goals in 2020/21. Worryingly for Liverpool, his most effective performance was in that Man City win, when he managed to get between Eric Garcia and Nathan Ake courtesy of those bursts of vertical passing from the midfield.

Without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and perhaps even Andrew Robertson, Liverpool’s back four will be highly vulnerable to those Vardy runs. A key battle is likely to develop between Harvey Barnes, dropping between the lines from the left inside forward position, and Liverpool’s right-back James Milner.

Liverpool relying on Jota for Leicester’s weak side

Mohamed Salah is also likely to miss out after testing positive for Covid-19, which forces Klopp’s hand and suggests he will feature Diogo Jota on the right of a front three, rather than keep the aggressive 4-2-4 deployed in the 1-1 draw with Man City. Jota, with seven goals in nine games in all competitions, has enjoyed a brilliant start to life at Anfield – but nevertheless Liverpool will be disappointed to lose Salah, the perfect player to exploit Leicester’s weaknesses on that side.

Without Alexander-Arnold to stretch the play, Jota could get isolated out on the right as he squares up to left wing-back Luke Thomas and left centre-back Christian Fuchs. These two players have performed admirably so far for Rodgers, but they are the two weakest players in Leicester’s first 11 and could have been attacked directly by Salah. Jota will drift off the flank, potentially helping the Foxes escape scrutiny on their left.

Liverpool really could struggle to create chances here. They haven’t been prolific for some time, and without so many of their key players Klopp’s side will be lopsided and disjointed. They haven’t lost at home in 63 league matches, and are just one result away from a new club record. But pretty much everything that could have got in the way has.

Predicted Line-ups

Liverpool (4-2-3-1) 

Alisson Becker
James Milner
Nathaniel Phillips
Joel Matip
Andrew Robertson
Georginio Wijnaldum
Naby Keita
Diogo Jota
Sadio Mane
Xherdan Shaqiri
Roberto Firmino

Subs: Adrian, Neco Williams, Rhys Williams, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Curtis Jones, Kostas Tsimikas

Leicester City (3-4-2-1)

Kasper Schmeichel
Wesley Fofana
Jonny Evans
Christian Fuchs
James Justin
Youri Tielemans
Nampalys Mendy
Timothy Castagne
Dennis Praet
James Maddison
Jamie Vardy

Subs: Danny Ward, Marc Albrighton, Wes Morgan, Harvey Barnes, Cengiz Under, Kelechi Iheanacho, Hamza Choudhury

Dyuta Match Prediction

Liverpool 1-1 Leicester City

Dyuta Dream 11 Fantasy Team Prediction

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