It was hard fought, but our 1-0 win over Brighton on Saturday maintained our 100% start to the 2018/19 campaign. It was one of those frustrating games where we were a slightly misplaced pass or a narrow deflection away from running up a more convincing scoreline, but there were plenty of positives to be taken nonetheless.
That’s three clean sheets in a row now – what a difference having a confident shot-stopper in Alisson and a world-class centre back in Virgil van Dijk makes.
Naby Keita has added guile, pace and athleticism in midfield, and his willingness to carry the ball through the middle of the park means the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane can concentrate on finding pockets of space.
Both Firmino and Mane missed good chances, and Trent Alexander-Arnold hit the bar with a free kick as the Reds poured on the pressure.
With Brighton rarely threatening, it was a comfortably if at times frustrating afternoon for Jurgen Klopp’s men, with relief and joy in equal measure coming via Salah’s sublime winner.
”Pep Guardiola said this week the players are still not 100% fit and that’s how it is,” the manager said. “You cannot give them no summer break, a very short pre-season and then say be at your best. These games are the best sessions we have to get fit.
“I knew before the game I had a lot of work to do, and maybe now you know it as well.”
Still, three wins from three is a nice start from a side seemingly lacking in fitness.
This week we make the trip to the East Midlands to take on Leicester in the televised Saturday lunchtime game. The Foxes sit in seventh but there has been an element of good fortune to their results so far; they were played off the park by Wolves and won courtesy of a bizarre own goal, and at Southampton they needed a speculative injury time winner from Harry Maguire to take the spoils.
There is absolutely nothing for us to fear, and it’s not beyond the pail that our 100% run can continue a little longer yet.
Liverpool Team News
When Klopp talks about the post World Cup fitness of his players, you sense he’s referring primarily to Jordan Henderson, who was running on empty following England’s exploits.
He’s been given a watching brief, by and large so far, with occasional cameos from the bench as the midfield trio of James Milner, Gigi Wijnaldum and Keita has looked excellent.
Henderson may once again have to be content with a spot on the bench; with the international break coming up he will have ample opportunity to work on his fitness away from competitive action.
Indeed, it’s unlikely that Klopp will make any changes to the eleven that has served him so well thus far, with no enforced absentees reported.
The only long-term absentees are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dejan Lovren, with the latter expected to return after the internationals.
Leicester City Form
As mentioned, there has been a hint of good fortune to Leicester’s progress so far.
They actually put in a good performance against Manchester United on the opening day, and were unlucky not to get something from the game.
But against Wolves they were all at sea defensively, with the team in gold hitting the woodwork three times and having a shot cleared off the line. To add insult to injury, Leicester’s two goals came from a deflected long-range shot and an own goal that had to be seen to be believed.
Against Southampton last time out they were second best for much of the contest, and their injury-time winner came after the Saints’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had been sent off.
Leicester City vs Liverpool Betting Tips
Five of the last six meetings between these sides have delivered three or more goals, although without Riyad Mahrez – and with our defensive unit improved considerably, you suspect there might be a change of pattern on Saturday.
The Foxes have brought in James Maddison, who looks a talent, and given a more primary role to Demarai Gray, but of the five goals they have scored this season more than 50% have been own goals and deflected shots. That does not bode well in the long term.
Can Mane, Salah and Firmino have their way against Wes Morgan, Ben Chilwell and co? You’d certainly like to think so.
It remains a source of much amusement that Mane can be backed at such excellent Anytime Goalscorer prices week in, week out despite bagging three in three so far, and so we’ll lap up the 15/8 on him to find the net against the Foxes.
As for the match result, Liverpool are comfortable 4/9 favourites with the bookies and for good reason.
For betting value, take the curious odds of 13/18 on Liverpool with a -1.00 Asian handicap; if they win by one our stake is refunded, by two or more goals then it lands.