Liverpool vs Leicester City: EPL Preview and Prediction
Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield on Saturday afternoon for the first time since leaving Liverpool when his Leicester City side come to town.
Both teams have made impressive starts to the season, with Liverpool still holding a hundred per cent win record in the league after seven games and Leicester sitting third in the table.
Another win this weekend would ensure that Liverpool go into the second international break of the season with at least a five-point lead at the top.
Leicester put 10-man Newcastle United to the sword in a 5-0 drubbing at the King Power Stadium last weekend, making it nine goals without reply in their last two outings across all competitions.
Liverpool EPL form: WWWWWW
Leicester EPL form: DWWLWW
Liverpool could potentially welcome first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker back into their side for this one, having been without the FIFA Best Goalkeeper of the Year since the opening day of the season.
Joel Matip is expected to return after picking up a knock against Sheffield United last weekend, forcing him out of the Salzburg game, where his absence was felt by Liverpool.
The other places seemingly up for grabs are in midfield; Naby Keita may be hopeful of starting alongside Fabinho, although the likes of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana are also competing for places.
Sadio Mane is one Premier League goal away from 50 for Liverpool, and should he get it in what will be his 100th appearance for the club then he would be the 10th player to reach that landmark - more than any other club.
Leicester have an in-form marksman of their own, though, with Jamie Vardy's brace against Newcastle taking him up to five in seven games this season and 14 in 17 since Rodgers's first game at the helm - more than any other player in the Premier League during that time.
The former England international usually enjoys himself against Liverpool too, with only Andrew Cole and Thierry Henry scoring more times against the Reds in the Premier League era and only Sergio Aguero having a better goals-per-game ratio against the 'big six' since the start of the 2010-11 season.
Vardy is by no means the only one who has impressed under Rodgers, though, and Leicester will be particularly boosted by the return of James Maddison after he missed the win over Newcastle last weekend.
Maddison has been in fine form and should come straight back into the team after the injury he had sustained.
Head To Head
Liverpool have not lost a home league game against Leicester since May 2000, winning six of their eight such meetings with the Foxes since then.
Leicester did manage to come away with a 1-1 draw from the corresponding fixture in January, though, ending a run of three successive league defeats at the hands of the Reds.
Mohamed Salah vs Caglar Soyuncu
The Egyptian marksman Mohamed Salah has been in great nick and has hit the ground running this season. Even though he still has not found the lethal touch for which he is famous, Salah is still a huge force to reckon with.
The burden of controlling him will most likely rest on the able shoulders of Leicester City's 23-year-old Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu. The youngster has ably filled the massive void that Harry Maguire's departure has caused, and has seamlessly adapted to Rodgers' plans.
Soyuncu likes to dominate the battles with strikers and more often than not, he ends up the clear winner. Salah, most certainly, will not have the easiest of days in Anfield when Soyuncu and Leicester come calling.
Mo Salah has scored four goals and three assists in seven games, while Soyuncu has, to his credit, 2.4 tackles and 4 clearances per game, in as many matches.
Virgil van Dijk vs Jamie Vardy
The UEFA Best Player of the Year, Virgil van Dijk was hands down, the top defender last season. He is a commanding presence in the Liverpool defence and has exception ball-playing ability, to go along with it.
Few strikers will even be capable of upsetting the rhythm of the tall, lanky centre-back; but if there is one, it might be Jamie Vardy.
With his marauding runs and perennial tracking which often pester the defenders to no end, Vardy is a smart striker who is agile and known for finishing chances.
The clash between the two 'V's might have the potential to even decide the match. Whoever wins this battle might end up winning the war for his team.
With an incredible 4.9 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game, out of the seven matches so far, van Dijk will be a tough nut to crack for Vardy, who, on the other hand, has had five goals and an assist.
Liverpool's form has not been quite as emphatic as their results suggest - they could have easily dropped points in games against Southampton, Chelsea, Sheffield United and Salzburg - but they do keep finding ways to win.
Leicester will be a very difficult test - arguably their hardest of the domestic season so far in terms of the form book - and should have enough about them to get a goal at Anfield, but we are once again backing Liverpool to get the job done.
We predict that it would be a cracking contest between the two clubs, but Brendan Rodgers will most likely not have the happiest of Anfield returns. Liverpool should take all three points.
Predicted Score: Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City