Leicester begin life without Claudio Ranieri with a generally healthy squad as just Wague misses out. Slimani and Ulloa are expected to return but may not be fit enough to start. Interim manager Craig Shakespeare is unlikely to make major changes in personnel, though Gray could come into the line-up in a tactical alteration from the previous game with Sevilla. The mood around the club has really been impacted this week with the sudden sacking of Claudio Ranieri after a poor run of form. The players were rumoured to have had a hand in this, but it has been denied, though regardless it’s not ideal preparation. They welcome Liverpool in poor form and would see a draw as a decent result, having not scored in six, losing five on the bounce. Pressure is on to get a win given that they’ve fallen into the drop zone courtesy of other results, but if they go behind it’s very unlikely they have the mental fortitude of ability to turn things round against a very dangerous Liverpool side. The plan will be to stay compact and counter, keeping it low scoring. While it’s level they won’t be risky, but scoring first is their best hope of a win.
Liverpool will be without captain Henderson after it emerged he suffered a foot injury which kept him out of training at the weekend. Can steps in but it’s a weakening. No other changes are expected in the line-up, with Lovren struggling to overcome an injury as Lucas Leiva continued at centre back for another week, leaving them a little worse off defensively. Coming from a win they’ll be in improved confidence, while having not played in 16 days they will be very fresh and eager to play again. A win is the aim and the only result that satisfies, but they will pay Leicester respect and will be wary of a potential backlash from the squad after the sacking of their manager. A fairly attacking approach is likely, trying to establish a lead early on. If they got ahead the game plan wouldn’t change a great deal, not being a side comfortable spending time on the back foot and playing defensively. A draw doesn’t suit so the longer it’s level the more they will open up. They have quality on their side and if they are fully motivated they will see themselves as favourites to pick up a win and stay well in the hunt for second place.
Verdict & Prediction
Liverpool went into their 16 day break between fixtures on the back of a pressure relieving win over Tottenham, improving the mood in the camp. They head to Leicester with renewed confidence and will be looking for another three points to stay in the fight for 2nd, being a long way off top. Only a win will please, though they will be wary of a potential backlash from a Leicester side in poor form and without a manager. Complacency won’t be an issue with Liverpool having so much at stake themselves, but recent away form has been patchy so they have to be focused. They’ll see themselves as favourites to win this game but Leicester aren’t an easy team to beat at home. There is plenty of belief in the squad though and they should be fully motivated to turn up and produce a good performance to earn a much needed three points.
Prediction: Liverpool -0.75 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.92 Pinnacle, SBOBET