Liverpool have the chance to capitalise on any termoil or discontent when they visit the King Power Stadium on Monday.
As it was announced on Thursday evening that Leicester relieved manager Claudio Ranieri of his duties just a year after sensationally winning the Premier League in what proved to be one of the cult stories in sport of all-time, disgust & outrage surrounded this dubious decision by the board of Leicester City.
Based on this, it seems perfectly sensible to back us here. However, that’s not to say the Reds shouldn’t be aware of a backlash. With Man United not in action this weekend though due to EFL Cup Final exploits, it’s Liverpool chance to seize the initiative and widen the gap.
But of course, with Liverpool, a perfect opportunity can easily escalate into more dropped points which will do our top 4 hopes another blow. For me, this game shouldn’t be underestimated – not only will it loosen Arsenal’s potential stranglehold on top 4, but it can also put neutrals and the pacesetters in the league on red alert, that we are possibly on the road to finally eradicating issues against ‘lesser’ sides.
I’ve heard some on Twitter labelling this an easy game, especially considering the doom and gloom surrounding the club. Some people may think this game is anti-climatic compared to our rivals. But they are wrong. Because, if you look at our fixture list, all that’s left are lesser teams bar Manchester City.
Compare that with Arsenal’s? What I’m saying is that, with Manchester United and Arsenal out of action this weekend, we need to capitalise.
Many will completely go against the prophecy that the game on Monday is important. Leicester controversially sacked title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri on Thursday – so they’ll be devoid of confidence surely?
Think again. The problem we’ve had with ‘lesser’ teams this term is not being aware of a backlash. The backlash could be that Leicester may be buoyed by the media reports, and by Craig Shakespeare as well as the potentially imminent hostile reception from supporters. If we sit back, we’ll pay the price.
The good news, though, is our form after having rest:
United have been in good form recently and are only a point behind us, and Arsenal suffered back to back defeats too – we too lie a point behind the Gunners. Win today, and we’re into 3rd until we face them next Saturday. A defeat, and we could be down to 6th if United and Arsenal win next weekend. So it’s important to get some winning run together.
A negative is the injury to Jordan Henderson. He’s really been an integral member of our midfield three – covering acres of ground as well as working hard for his team-mates. With the Reds lacking a regular number 6 to deputise for the Mackem midfielder, the 4-3-3 could see us line in a slightly different juggernaut. I think Emre Can deserves a chance to fill in the deeper role for Henderson – having been berated endlessly for his poor performances last month, this is his opportunity to show critics that he is soon to be the finished article yet. He has a tendency to be awful when Henderson’s in the side – but not today! Hopefully his midfield berth can give us the opportunity to boss the midfield.
Philippe Coutinho already warned us of complacency earlier this week – and rightly so. Our last performance at Leicester was probably our worst I remember from living memory. We had Roberto Firmino isolated up top that game – and in general, just lacked spine. Leicester may be a different proposition now, but this cannot be another of these games where we saunter in to it thinking the game’s won.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Klopp went for an unchanged side from Spurs bar Henderson’s injury. Altering the side from that game would be the wrong decision. As Paul Merson correctly said for once, Liverpool need to go out attacking and press Leicester hard in the midfield, and don’t give the likes of Huth on the ball. I’d love to see Matip-Gomez partner at CB to give us more balance, but I don’t blame the manager if he chose not to rotate the side.
I feel this is the type of game that suits Alberto Moreno though. He offers a lot more attacking threat than Milner. This is a game we need to be quick out of the blocks off. Liverpool just need to be ruthless on Monday. Simple.