Since Harry Kane’s unbelievable and unlikely finish to open the scoring two weeks ago, Leicester City are on a 11-0 goal scoring run. Regardless of the level of opposition, that’s exactly the form they need going to Anfield to take on a Liverpool team still at 100% for the season. Here are some areas the game could be decided.
1. Battle of the fullbacks
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are both excellent and would be most people’s picks as the best pair in the Premier League. Still, it wont be the edge it usually is for Liverpool because Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell are breathing right down their necks.
With Ricardo in particular, the Foxes’ duo might have the edge defensively, but will be tested to their limits containing Liverpool’s wide threat.
I don’t think there’s too many better than those four - Brendan Rodgers is a big fan of both sides’ pairs
My biggest concern for Leicester is that Liverpool’s incredible wide forwards will force, or even just persuade, the Foxes’ fullbacks to sit deep and play a defensive game. They’re good, but you can’t really plan on holding that team to 0 goals.
Keeping them in our own half will also give their guys the freedom to come forward and attack all game, making our job even harder. Rodgers needs to get his guys on the front foot where they’re at their best.
2. Liverpool avoiding Wilf
One thing that should help our defenders to get forward is the excellent cover that Wilfred Ndidi provides them. His break up of play has been as good as anyone in Europe at the moment, and he can really take away the middle of the pitch.
He put in a hugely impressive performance in @LCFC's 5-0 win over Newcastle and with a WhoScored rating of 9.35, midfielder @Ndidi25 is our Premier League player of the week— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 1, 2019
For more player stats -- https://t.co/XC5zJzeNzI pic.twitter.com/ACbhxTFSTv
Unfortunately, it is hard to identify one specific target or zone that you’d like to nullify. Liverpool’s goals and assists come from all across their formation, and their forwards can pop up anywhere.
Mo Salah is still the most obvious threat, with Sadio Mané not far behind. Neither are strictly wingers, but will often attack from wide and, while they can’t avoid Wilf, he can’t cover both sides at once.
A game where Wilf is less involves than normal is unlikely to go well for us.
3. Control the midfield
Some good news from today’s pre-match press conference: James Maddison has practiced fully for a few days and will be fine to play on Saturday. He’ll come straight back in to join Youri Tielemans and the above-mentioned Ndidi in one of the strongest midfields in the league.
Their opponents have one of the best defensive and forward lines in the league and, frankly, the world. I’m not sure you could consider their midfield a “weakness” but it’s certainly an area where we can come out on top.
Leicester is a very good team and we are showing that. We are in third place and we have a very strong midfield. I knew that before I came here, but that is a challenge. I am happy that I have already been able to show myself - Dennis Praet knows his team are good enough to compete
Of course, we are away from home against the best team in the league so far. If there’s any situation you’d expect to see Hamza Choudhury, it’s this one. He’s certainly the simplest answer to point 2.
We’ve spent long enough agonising over the way this disrupts the balance of the midfield, and the team as a whole. I can’t fault the idea against Liverpool, but Rodgers cannot just throw him into Maddison’s role, push Madders out wide and expect good results.
This Leicester side are absolutely deserving of their 3rd position in the table. It’s time to take the lessons from Manchester United and play this one like equals.