When we previewed the Burnley match last week, we insinuated that it might be a low-scoring affair, and that the Clarets deserved more respect from the betting market. Sadly, we were right on both counts as they managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw despite the Reds flying forward at every available opportunity.
The reasoning for our argument is that without Sadio Mane, we really aren’t the same kind of attacking force. And so it proved, and although messrs Firmino, Salah and Sturridge tried manfully, they couldn’t quite break Burnley’s resistance. As proven elsewhere, having 75% possession and 35 shots at goal is wholly irrelevant if you don’t put the ball in the net more than once!
We would expect a similar sort of pattern to unfold on Saturday in the East Midlands as the Reds travel to take on Leicester for the second time in four days.
The first encounter on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup can be all but struck off the record. Jurgen Klopp made all manner of changes to his starting eleven – as did Leicester, to be fair – and the end result is hardly the end of the world given that this is a competition the manager might be quietly happy to be out of.
But the context of a defeat is everything, and once again our defending from set pieces was called into question for Leicester’s opener (we could do nothing about Slimani’s outstanding strike for the second). Factor in abject displays from Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it was a pretty ropey evening by all accounts.
There are a couple of silver linings, however. The chance for immediate revenge presents itself on Saturday, and the link-up play between Philippe Coutinho and Andy Robertson was a joy to behold at times. The Brazilian looks back to somewhere near his best already, while it’s nice to see Liverpool field a left-footed left back that enjoys attacking and defending in equal measure.
Hopefully, Klopp finds a way to field them against Leicester on Saturday!
Liverpool Team News
Team selection in these cup matches often offers an insight into how a manager is feeling about certain players, and so some of those in the side against Leicester in midweek should feel worried about their places.
The likes of Ragnar Klavan, Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain all played 90 minutes on Tuesday, and the inference then is that they won’t be picked for Saturday. Robertson also played the whole game, but he was so impressive that he must have forced his way into the reckoning regardless.
There are other inferences to be made. Coutinho was substituted at half time, and we can surmise that was to protect him for Saturday’s game (and ostensibly for the Champions League next week). Gigi Wijnaldum was brought off after 73 minutes, and so he is likely to get the nod on Saturday.
The likes of Emre Can, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino were all given the night off on Tuesday, and so they can all expect to come back into the side at the weekend.
Leicester City Form
Leicester have been quite unlucky in a sense this season to date, in the sense that their opening five fixtures have thrown up games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Hence their lowly league position then, and while the Foxes are better than the table suggests there were clear warning signs to them in the 1-1 draw at Huddersfield. Elias Kachunga had a goal ruled out for the Terriers that looked a marginal call, and their all-round play deserved the three points by all accounts. Leicester clung on without recording a single shot on target in open play.
Leicester have been on the wrong end of the shot count in four of their five outings so far, and that is testament to their tough run of games. The fact they have lost to three other members of the Premier League ‘big six’ should fill the Reds with hope.
Leicester vs Liverpool Betting Tips
A quick look at the odds comparison websites shows that Liverpool are odds-on to win this one at around 20/21, and as much as it pains us to say it that just does not represent value.
Leicester are much better at home than they are away, and don’t forget they have beaten the Reds in each of our last three trips to the KP Stadium.
We miss Sadio Mane big time, and you do worry about the slightly cumbersome pairing of Matip and Lovren when dealing with those balls delivered into the channel for Jamie Vardy to run onto.
So the Leicester +0.75 Asian handicap is the smart play here at 11/14, and if you are placing a goals-based acca then Both Teams to Score will add meat to the bones at 8/13.