Liverpool travel to the King Power stadium on Monday night, hoping to pile even more pressure on Leicester City, who controversially sacked Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, so soon after sensationally winning the Premier League title.
The game will be Liverpool’s first since they beat Tottenham 2-0 at Anfield on the 11th of this month; since then, the team has been away to La Manga in Spain for a warm-weather training camp, capitalising on the spare time made available due to being out of the FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp, though, will expect his team to get straight back into the groove despite such a long period between games: the team will hope to be refreshed rather than rusty when they return to the field.
For the Reds, the game provides a big chance to get three points in the race for the top-four, but the circumstances could be difficult given the events of Thursday. No one could foresee Ranieri getting the chop so soon after getting a decent result against Sevilla, with a vital away goal.
Many Leicester supporters feel that Ranieri has been treated harshly – and it is not hard to see why – so there might be a lot of animosity in the stadium, making it difficult for Leicester.
On the other hand, a new manager might be in charge by then, and the players, who reportedly went to the board to get the Italian sacked after the 2-1 defeat midweek in Spain, might be boosted.
The game promises to be an interesting watch. Given Leicester’s recent form, and league position, Liverpool go into the game as heavy favourites, but the sacking of a popular figure has changed the situation slightly.
Everyone has an opinion on the sacking of Ranieri, and that will dominate the build-up from now until the match begins. Klopp was inevitably asked about the situation during his press conference.
“Am I surprised that this can happen (Ranieri being sacked)? No. There have been a few strange decisions [recently] with Brexit [and] Trump…” he said, using a typically amusing turn of phrase.
Midfielder Adam Lallana, who signed a £110,000-a-week contract this week, was given special praise. He has become a vital player for Liverpool over the last few months.
“We had to try everything to keep a player like him. Since I’ve been here, he has been a really important player for all the development steps we have taken,” Klopp said, before adding, “He is at a perfect age to deliver consistently”.
Liverpool’s proposed move away from Melwood to the Academy was also discussed, with Klopp thought to be the driving force behind the move.
“Sometimes you have to set the standards and it’s really good we have the opportunity to make the step in the future,” the German explained. Liverpool’s facilities have lagged behind the other top teams in this country, but that should not be the case for much longer.
He later expanded on Liverpool’s injury worries ahead of the game: Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge are both slight doubts for the game, but the former will train before Monday, so is not out of the equation just yet. Sturridge would be unlikely to start anyway, even if fit, given Klopp’s preference for a front three consisting of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.
Like every game in the run-in, Liverpool will be desperate for three points. Leicester have proven on occasion this season that they can be very effective, and it would be wrong to rule them out given that they are still the reigning Champions.
It has been a week of mostly misery for Leicester – losing in the Champions League and sacking a manager – and Liverpool will hope that continues, at least until Monday night.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 20:00 GMT and is live on Sky Sports.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Michael Oliver – Oliver is a late replacement for Lee Mason, who was originally meant to referee this game, but pulled out through illness. He is among the top officials in the Premier League.
Liverpool will be glad Mason is no longer in charge, as he has overseen disastrous results such as the poor showing at Burnley earlier in the season.
Oliver, in contrast, has taken charge of Liverpool five times so far this season, including the opening day 4-3 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, with the Reds winning four games and drawing once. He has refereed Leicester three times this season, including their best performance of the season against Manchester City.
Leicester City are currently thirty two points worse off than they were at this stage last season (fifty three points compared to twenty one points).
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Lallana, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Drinkwater, Ndidi; Mahrez, Gray, Albrighton; Vardy
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