Leicester v Liverpool: Reds to outsmart Foxes but goals will be scarce

Jurgen Klopp's side have lost their flakiness and can prove too strong for a Jamie Vardy-less Leicester who may struggle to score


Liverpool are in uncharted territory, and not just in the sense that people think they have a realistic chance of winning the league for once. The Reds have won their opening three games for only the fourth time in the Premier League era, and they’ve yet to concede a goal either. Cynics might say they’re yet to play either particularly well or anyone good yet, but the fact is they’ve amassed a perfect set of results so far.

However, on the three previous occasions they’ve put nine points on the board in the first three matches, they’ve always failed to win the fourth. Are Leicester going to join the ranks of Tottenham, West Ham and Swansea from years gone by in stopping the Red momentum train?

Not according to our mate Paddy, who has Liverpool priced at just 2/5 while the Foxes are 6/1 for Saturday’s 12.30 kick off. While Leicester may have embarrassed themselves by losing to Manchester United in their opening match, they responded well by beating Wolves and Southampton. Can they make it three wins in a row themselves?

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Their manager Claude Puel (above) certainly has a good record against Liverpool, with three wins and three draws from seven matches against them for Lyon, Southampton and Leicester. But the nerdy numbers show his side were fortunate to score once in their last two matches, never mind four times, and with Jamie Vardy suspended, their luck may run out here.

It’s a shame the recently retired England international is absent for the Foxes, as he has seven goals in eight games against the Reds, making them Steptoe’s favourite opponent. 

He has scored 43 per cent of Leicester’s league goals against the big six since they returned to the top flight too. Vardy and Mahrez accounted for 32 of Leicester’s 56 league goals last season, and without them the home side’s most likely scorer is Kelechi Iheanacho.

He’s available at 8/1 to open the scoring, or 3/1 to net at any time. The former Manchester City man’s record of 15 Premier League goals in 70 appearances may look modest, but so many of those games saw him get a few minutes off the bench here and there. When looking at his figures per 90 minutes played, he’s been better than one goal every two ‘games’ and looks likely to be Leicester’s only guaranteed goal threat.

The favourite in the goal scorer markets is unsurprisingly Mohamed Salah. The King of Egypt is 11/4 to break the deadlock, or just 4/5 to add his name to the scoresheet. While these prices won’t make your fortune, they’re still worth considering.

Salah may have scored twice already this season, but he has also missed three of his four clear-cut chances, and that low hit rate won’t continue for long. Kopites everywhere will hope he scores, as Liverpool didn’t win any of the league games last year when he started but didn’t find the net. Now that’s a jinx!

It’s hard to know who to pick for longer odds in the goal scorer market, as there are few players on either side who aren’t forwards and score regularly, but Naby Keita might be worth a look. The former Leipzig man isn’t exactly due a goal, but he scored once every six shots in the Bundesliga, has taken five so far for Liverpool and missed a clear-cut chance at Selhurst Park in their previous away game. Keita is 4/1 to score at any time, or 10/1 to score the opener.

Whoever it is who ultimately finds the back of the net, it seems safe to assume someone will. In Liverpool’s last four league visits to King Power Stadium there has been a total of 15 goals, and only fewer than three when they met in Leicester’s title-winning season. Vardy’s first goal that night was so good it should’ve been worth 1.6 goals really.

But that was the old Liverpool, the one that was made of far flakier stuff. When they played out a topsy turvy 3-2 at the King Power 11 months ago, their back four included Matip, Lovren and Moreno, with Mignolet behind them, and the deserters Can and Coutinho started too.

Big Virg (above) is the main man at the back now, and the Reds have conceded just 10 goals in his 17 Premier League appearances. As only two teams conceded more set piece goals than the Foxes last season, maybe a few quid on van Dijk to score, at 11/1, is worth a second look.  

Liverpool may have had the most away games which saw at least three goals last season, but with their front three not yet at their best and their defence holding firm, I’ll be going for under 2.5 goals at 11/10.

For similar reasons, it has to be a ‘no’ selection in the both teams to score, which is available at 10/11. Only three sides may have played more away matches where both sides found the net over the past two seasons, but the new look Liverpool should be able to keep a Vardy-less Leicester at arm’s length on Saturday.

Jürgen’s boys are available at 7/5 to win to nil, and on current form it looks a distinct possibility. Could this actually be your year, Liverpool fans?

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What do you think?