Two teams who have made good starts to the new season meet when Leicester City host Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Saturday (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Leicester lost out to Manchester United in an even match on the opening day of the season but have since recorded victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton in what has been a promising start to the campaign.
That is in direct contrast to the way they finished last season. Just one win in their last seven matches, and three in their last 14, meant that coach Claude Puel would likely have found himself on pretty shaky ground had his side not picked up a decent amount of points during the opening stretch of the new campaign. He has now given himself a bit of breathing room.
Leicester did some good work in the summer transfer market, clearing out some of the bloat and filling two holes in their squad by bringing in the right-back Ricardo Pereira from Porto and creative midfielder James Maddison from Norwich. Riyad Mahrez left for Manchester City, but on balance, Puel probably has a better-rounded group this time around.
It would be a realistic objective for Leicester to finish as the best of the rest behind the top six. Everton are probably their primary competition, unless a team like Bournemouth or Watford can replicate what Burnley achieved last season. Who knows, if Manchester United don’t pick up form or Arsenal struggle to adapt to new coach Unai Emery, perhaps even sixth could be up for grabs.
That would, however, require a consistency that Leicester were unable to find last time out after Puel replaced the sacked Craig Shakespeare in late October. Regardless of the result this weekend, the three eminently winnable fixtures that follow it and then a showdown at home to Everton will give a better picture of what Leicester can achieve this season.
Liverpool have made exactly the sort of the start that they needed to in order to harbour realistic ambitions of challenging for this season’s league title. Last time out, they found themselves a full 12 points off the ultimate pace just nine matches into the season following an opening sequence of three wins, four draws and two defeats. Nine points out of nine so far this time around provides a solid building block for a successful campaign.
It is not just their points haul that would seem to bode well for a good season, but the manner in which they have been won. One of Liverpool’s key weaknesses in the early part of last season was a defence who conceded 16 times in those opening nine fixtures. But they tightened up as the season went on and have begun the new campaign with three consecutive clean sheets.
The team’s offensive power was made patently clear last season, when only champions Manchester City outscored them. Mohamed Salah was the standout performer, with 32 goals and 10 assists, but he was far from the only impressive contributor. Fellow forwards Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also enjoyed strong campaigns, and all three have begun the new campaign in a similar vein, each involved in two or more of Liverpool’s seven goals to date.
With their defensive problems now seemingly sorted and stronger midfield options at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal, Liverpool probably look the best placed team to prevent City from retaining their title – although Tottenham Hotspur will also hope to find themselves in the mix. Klopp will be especially keen for his side to continue their good start on Saturday given that Liverpool face Spurs and Chelsea away and City at home in three of their next four fixtures.
The top bookies’ odds for this match have Liverpool as the clear 4/9 favourites to take the three points with Leicester 6/1 and the draw at 7/2. Although Liverpool are the most likely victors, that isn’t quite as certain an occurrence as those odds would suggest. Leicester’s attack will obviously be some blunted by the absence of the suspended Jamie Vardy, but there are still a side who are capable of at least making the match an honest contest, maybe even of securing a point or more.
Liverpool only won by a one-goal margin in last season’s equivalent fixture and Leicester have only lost at home by more than a goal three times in their last 20 matches at the King Power stadium. If Liverpool do win on Saturday, it is likely to be a narrow margin of victory.
Our Preview’s Leicester vs. Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Leicester City +1 goal on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 23/18 with Unibet.