Just a few days after meeting in the third round of the Carabao Cup, Leicester City and Liverpool will again lock horns in Premier League action at the King Power Stadium on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on BT Sport).
It was Leicester who emerged victorious on Tuesday, with second-half goals from Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani seeing them through to the next round with a 2-0 win. The personnel will change this weekend but the pattern of play is likely to be similar.
Liverpool will look to win the ball back high up the pitch and transition swiftly into shooting positions, while Leicester will sit deeper and seek to break forward quickly with longer passes into the channels and in behind.
It is a clash of styles that regularly produces attractive, end-to-end matches with plenty of goals. Since Leicester’s return to the Premier League in 2014, league matches between these two sides have averaged over three goals. Last season’s two fixtures produced nine, with Liverpool’s 4-1 victory at Anfield followed by a 3-1 win for Leicester in the return.
Given that both sides’ matches so far this season have also averaged over three goals, a repeat on Saturday seems probable.
Unfortunately for Leicester, the balance of their goals has so far been negative. They were handed a tough start to the season, with matches against four of last season’s top six during their opening six fixtures and have so far only accumulated four points from five matches.
While they are giving up a few too many good-quality chances, their underlying statistics are otherwise more promising. Coach Craig Shakespeare will therefore be looking forward to the easier run of fixtures that comes after the visit of Liverpool. In five matches time, we should have a better idea of what Leicester can aspire to this season.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Since Leicester’s return to the Premier League in 2014, league matches between these two sides have averaged over three goals[/quote]
Coming into the campaign, a top-eight finish looked a realistic goal for the Foxes, particularly considering that their form during the final third of last season, after Shakespeare replaced the sacked Claudio Ranieri, was top-six worthy. They made some solid signings this summer and if Shakespeare can get more out of some of last season’s under-performing additions, he looks to have a squad capable of achieving that.
After their shock league title win in 2015-16 and a brief flirtation with relegation last year, a slightly more sedate season looks likely to be on cards this time around.
Sedate is certainly not the word that one would use to describe Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. A total of 18 goals have been scored in their five league matches to date, while their three European matches have yielded a further 13. They have a highly potent attack but it is coupled with a defence that gives excellent opportunities to their opponents.
Liverpool’s matches can therefore be difficult to predict. Over the course of a full campaign, their style has proved effective, as evidenced by their return to the top four last season following a two-year absence. In individual matches much depends on how their finishing compares to that of their opponents. If chances are missed and the breaks don’t go their way, points can be dropped.
That shows up in the inconsistency of the club’s start to the season. Liverpool were sublime in their 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal, with the front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah all getting on the scoresheet. They then fell to a 5-0 defeat, conditioned in part by the sending off of Mane, to Manchester City a week later. They have also drawn away to Watford and at home to Burnley.
In a competitive battle for a top-four place, it is important for Liverpool to get back to winning ways this weekend, but their chances of doing so will not be helped by the continued unavailability of the suspended Mane. Leicester have defeated Liverpool on home soil in each of the last two seasons and Mane’s absence could take just enough of an edge off Liverpool’s attack to allow them to secure a positive result again on Saturday.
Our Preview’s Leicester v Liverpool Betting Tips
This JustBookies’ match preview suggests the following two betting tips, where we highlight the best odds available from the UK’s major online bookies:
- Back Leicester City +0.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 101/100 (just over evens) with Bet365.
- Bet on over 3.5 goals @ top betting odds of 9/5 with BetVictor.
Compare Leicester v Liverpool Betting Odds from Top Bookmakers