Premier League football finally returns for the Reds, as Liverpool host a struggling Leicester City side at Anfield on Thursday, in Game Week 24 of the Premier League 2021/22 season.
Jurgen Klopp has a full squad at his mercy, making it difficult to ask him to select a playing XI from the in-form players. On the other hand, Brendan Rodgers’ side is struggling to win games. Their latest defeat coming at the hands of the Championship side, Nottingham Forest, in the 4th Round of the FA Cup.
It is not given that teams coming in big games having a poor run of form might perform badly. But, Leicester City’s performance has been shambolic in the last few game weeks. To the extent that it has put their coach, Brendan Rodgers, in a position to lose his job. After an abysmal show in the 4-1 loss in the FA Cup, the Foxes fans took to social media to show their disappointment with their team’s performances.
— Leicester Fan Tv (@LeicesterFanTV) February 9, 2022
Meanwhile, the foxes travel next to Anfield, to face the in-form Reds. But, the history of this fixture does tell us that form/momentum all are null and void when it comes to this battle.
When & Where?
Date- Thursday 10th February 2022.
Time- 7:45 PM GMT.
The Last face-off
As mentioned earlier, this fixture has produced some of the great upsets there are to be seen in football. And the last matchup between the two sides was not any different.
Surprisingly enough, Leicester came out victorious the last time they faced Liverpool – on Matchday 20 of the PL season 21/22- back in December. Despite, the odds favouring Klopp’s side, they were on the losing end away from home at the King Power Stadium. While it might look like just an edging 1-0 victory, it was more than just a fluke.
The Reds were in a free goal-scoring form going into that match, scoring in every single game since the clash against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season. They scored in a total of 37 games until they faced a spirited Leicester side, who just defended for their lives.
Reds have got a new attacking rhythm to their play
A lot has changed since their last match-up. Liverpool have been phenomenal throughout the month of January. While Leicester fans will be hoping to bury it all in the past and move on, how come in just a month’s time Jurgen Klopp changed the whole outlook of his players’ playing style?!
Despite, some key absentees due to national duties and injuries, Liverpool have looked unstoppable. The likes of Bobby Firmino, who had to pave his way into the playing XI this season, proved why he is still a key member of this Liverpool squad. Alongside Jota, these two have formed a formidable connection. A Brazilian and a Portuguese linkup is just sublime!
If we analyze the last few games of the Reds, especially during the time when Salah and Mane were away at the AFCON. We can observe a new midfield flare to their gameplay. For the most part of this season, Klopp got criticisms for over exploiting the full-back prowess. However, we have seen a change in the tactics since the draw against the gunners, in the 1st leg of the Semi-Finals of the EFL Cup at Anfield.
Midfielders are driving play from the center, to the wider areas helping the attackers to buy more time, for them to get into a scoring position. Mainly Curtis Jones has been seen playing this role, since his return. Although, this tactic requires a lot of pace and intelligent movement in the pockets of space. Klopp’s side does not lack in that area, and they have shown that rightly so.
Moreover, with the addition of Luis Diaz, and the return of Mane and Salah from the AFCON. While also adding to this is the return of the highly-rated youngster, Harvey Elliott. Liverpool’s attack is looking stronger than ever.
Brendan Rodgers will be hoping for the key players to step up
Unlike the Reds, Leicester City players have not stepped up in the absence of their star man – Jamie Vardy. The veteran English striker sustained a hamstring injury back in December, against the same opponents his team will be facing on Thursday.
While the absence of the striker came as a huge blow, many including Brendan Rodgers himself, believed that the players will step up and prove. But it has been the complete opposite of that. Since Vardy’s absence, they have not looked like a real threat going upfront. The Foxes are a side that builds their play around the strikers. But in the last few games, Leicester’s over-dependence on the striker has been clearly visible.
However, come Thursday, Brendan Rodgers will be urging his players to replicate the performance of King Power Stadium. Where the foxes defeated the Reds, 1-0. Yes! Rodgers want to save his job and rightly so. This is where he needs the support from some of his key players like – Maddison, Tielemans, Iheancho, Barnes, Ndidi – who have not been at it in the recent games. Brendan, along with the Leicester faithful, will be hoping these players shine and give their best if they need to have any chance of winning at Anfield.
Great news for Jurgen Klopp heading into this game, as there have been no fresh injuries reported. While Mo Salah returned the day after the night of the AFCON final. Sadio Mane still remains absent.
Although, the German gave Elliott a 30 mins on-field outing against Cardiff City. There may be a chance that we could expect to see another similar cameo, by the youngster, from off the bench. The newly bought, Diaz, will surely be handed over a start by Jurgen Klopp. Thiago and Origi also returned from injuries, along with Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who have completed their isolation periods after testing positive for COVID 19.
On the other hand, in the away camp, Brendan Rodgers still has a task at hand. With Jonny Evans, Castagne, Vardy, Bertrand and Fofana all being out of contention for the thriller at Anfield due to injuries.
Rodgers has already been outwardly spoken about his thoughts on his team’s performance. As he asked his “players to reflect in the mirror” after the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Nottingham Forest, in the 4th Round tie of the FA Cup.
Liverpool predicted XI- Alisson; Trent, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz.
Leicester City predicted XI- Schmeichel; Pereira, Vestergaard, Soyuncu, Thomas; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Daka; Iheanacho.