Liverpool vs Leicester Premier League Matchday 8 Preview

Chops October 4, 2019 222 Reads

Who: Liverpool vs Leicester City
When: Saturday, October 5th @ 10:00am ET
LineLiverpool -230 | Draw +360 | Leicester +650

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UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect Alisson’s potential availability and Joel Matip’s continued absence. 

The marquee match-up on the Premier League matchday 8 slate is Liverpool vs Leicester.

As you’re well aware, Liverpool are perfect this season, sitting atop the table with an impressive 7-0-0 record. Leicester is third with a less impressive 4-2-1 record and +8 goal differential.

Liverpool were challenged at Anfield on Wednesday in their Champions League group stage match by a potent and fearless Red Bull Salzburg squad. The Reds squandered a 3-0 lead with an entitled, sloppy, casual performance. They still made it out with a 4-3 win, but Jurgen Klopp was given plenty of mistakes/material to keep his team motivated.

For Reds fans, the hope is they learn from that experience as opposed to being satisfied with another win and feeling of invincibility.

Liverpool vs Leicester match preview

Since the start of the 2019 calendar year, Leicester have very easily been the third best team in the Premier League. Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is maximizing the talent of the squad. They play excellent, possession-based football. By any measurement, they’re one of the 20 best teams in the world (20th and rapidly rising on FiveThirtyEight, 22nd and rising on ClubElo, and 12th best performing squad on WhoScored).

It’s utterly hilarious Harry Maguire left Leicester for a more poorly managed organization and less talented team in Manchester United.

Leicester are king powered offensively by a pair of 22 year-old future Liverpool midfielders (kidding, kidding 🙄) in James Maddison and Wilfred Ndidi as well as by the ageless Jamie Vardy. The 32 year-old Vardy is having a second-wind under Rodgers, scoring 5 goals in 7 games. Playing all 630 minutes so far of this campaign at center-forward, Vardy is on track for his best statistical season since the 2015-16 championship year.

This is in part due to the excellent job that Maddison, Ndidi on the pivot, and Youri Tielemans do in unleashing Vardy for quality chances. Amazingly, Vardy’s 5 goals have come off just 13 shots (1.9 SpG). All three of Liverpool’s attacking force of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino average more per game.

Defensively, the Foxes are tight and organized. They’re tied with Liverpool [until Saturday evening that is] for fewest goals conceded this season (5). Ricardo Pereira is challenging Andy Robertson for “best left-back in England” status. Çaglar Söyüncü and Jonny Evans have formed an effective duo that leaves the Foxes not missing Harry Maguire at all (seriously, they’re both rated higher than him as of today, utterly hilarious).

While everyone’s favorite Danish goalkeep Kasper Schmeichel has only kept two clean sheets to date, he’s also not given up more than one goal in any game.

As for the Reds…

Even though Liverpool played Wednesday, don’t expect much squad rotations. However, Jordan Henderson probably should and will be given a breather, with either James Milner or more likely Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earning the start.

The Reds will not have Joel Matip back for this one, as Klopp announced on Friday that he’s out. Joe Gomez didn’t look up to speed just yet against RBS, and it seems like Virgil van Dijk plays better when paired with Matip. So that’s a major knock for the squad. Van Dijk will need to be in top form (which he was not on Wednesday) to stifle the Vardy threat.

Alisson is back in training and Klopp said he looks great, but it’d be surprising if he earns the start. Adrian has filled in just fine minus one or two near-gaffes.

And so, expect the regular Reds XI, save for Matip’s injury and Hendo likely sitting.

Tactically, don’t expect Liverpool to make any adjustments from what they did Wednesday or having been doing all year. They’ll attack up the flanks. They’ll press the hell out of Leicester and hope that leads to a bit of magic from Bobby-Mo-Mane. It’s the same recipe for success. They just need to defend better, which they were completely too careless doing on Wednesday.

Prediction

Rodgers is a bit more of a shape-shifter than he’s given credit for, but Leicester won’t change what’s working for them here. Look for the Foxes to aggressively force turnovers and create their chances off counters.

The big concern for Liverpool is if Jurgen Klopp doesn’t get his defense tightened up, Leicester could go up early and sit on the lead. They’re excellent at closing out games.

But Liverpool should be motivated from their Red Bull Salzburg performance. I read in places how Wednesday was like watching the 2017-18 season all over again. I couldn’t disagree more. Liverpool were starting Alberto Moreno and (god love him) Dejan Lovren early on then. Their defensive quality is massively upgraded. Liverpool’s problem Wednesday was arrogance and entitlement.

They know Leicester shouldn’t be taken lightly. They’ll get the defense fixed.

Expect Liverpool to be a bit more clinical in their finishing. One less cute pass, one more emphatic finish.

Oddsmakers believe this will most likely be a 2-0 or 2-1 Liverpool win. I agree. This feels like a game where Liverpool pulls out a 2-1 hard-fought victory to remain 100% for the season.

 

 

 

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