Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Leicester City Vs Liverpool - A Preview to the Midweek Premier League TIe

Relief was the mood around Anfield when Liverpool finally ended their 7 game winless run and as is typical with the topsy-turvy nature of the club at the moment, Glen Johnson was the one to provide the winning touch. Bravely, he charged on to a loose ball after the ball had rebounded off the cross bar after a Rickie Lambert header. Johnson has received quite a lot of criticism in the past months and it has been justified. However, credit must be given to the 30 year old England international. Not many would have taken the risk he did with two Stoke defenders and the goalkeeper attacking the ball as well. The celebration was not one of jubilation but one that was calm and mundane. While the win was good and the clean sheet even better, it does nothing but paper over the very large cracks in the club's structure. The first half epitomized the current state of the team with no incision and no creativity. There was just no life in the play. There was a drastic improvement in the second half with more pressing and incision resulting in a catalogue of chances before Glen Johnson broke the deadlock. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to understand that this was a Stoke team content with a draw. If another team had pursued us with more vigour than things might have been different. But, in the end that is just hypothetical. Brendan Rodgers and his men have to consolidate on this and know that the vintage Liverpool from last season may never be resurrected but that results can still be achieved.

Now, Liverpool travel to struggling Leicester City who are rooted to the bottom of the table with no win since the dramatic 5-3 win over Manchester United. Nigel Pearson is under a lot of pressure from fans and board and this is a game that should not be taken lightly. While Leicester have not won a game in long, they still remain strong at their King Power Stadium. It will be a cold and tense night and Liverpool will have their work cut out for them. First and foremost, Liverpool have to deal with Leicester's main goal poacher in Leandro Ulloa who is lethal in the box. Leicester rely on fast breaks and width from players like Jeffrey Shclupp, Riyad Mahrez and Anthony Knockaert. The defence will have to be wary of the threat possessed by veteran Esteban Cambiasso as well who has shown that he can take control of a game on a good day. There will be a strong defence to handle for the Liverpool attack with captain Wes Morgan and aspiring defender Liam Moore in the heart and ex-red Paul Konchesky also present. It promises to be difficult. Liverpool have not had the best away record this year with only two wins at Tottenham and QPR. When faced with teams fighting for their lives, Liverpool tend to struggle so it imperative that they get off to a good start to calm the nerves and tension. So, on this note who should be in the team and who should not?

I think that Liverpool should make two changes to the lineup that defeated Stoke on Saturday. Emre Can and Alberto Moreno should come in for Joe Allen and Jose Enrique respectively.

  • Kolo Toure performed well on Sunday and was able to cope with the strength and trickery of the Stoke attack comfortably. He is a good leader and his passion and desire shows on the field. While he may be prone to calamitous errors, he still has shown more in his limited game time than Dejan Loren or Martin Skrtel have. Unfortunately, Mamadou Sakho is not yet fit so I would stick with Skrtel and Toure as they would have high confidence from keeping a clean sheet. 
  • While I may be one of Glen Johnson's harshest critics, he deserves to stay in the team on the back of the previous performance because of his commitment to get the goal. The rule of thumb is to never drop a player after scoring a goal and this should continue with Johnson keeping his berth. If he does not perform against Leicester, he should be dropped the next game. Jose Enrique was reliable in attack and defence but Alberto Moreno has the edge over him in speed and passing and this might be required on the counter attack in an away game. 
  • The big question is whether leader Steven Gerrard should return to the team and the answer to that is a resounding NO. Lucas Leiva showed his solidarity and reliability in the Defensive Midfield position and he should continue there. The midfield looks more compact and structured with him in the team. 
  • Rickie Lambert has done well over the past few games with 2 goals and an assist and is proving to be a valuable asset. His experience in rough conditions like the ones at Leicester may be important. 
  • Sterling and Coutinho should stay as they are because there confidence has been dented over the past weeks and on Saturday, we saw glimpses of the Sterling and Coutinho of old and both need a run of games to get back up to their previous levels. 
  • Since it is an away game, Liverpool requires a strong presence in midfield and that is provided by Emre Can who provides required steel and can bring the ball out of trouble. Joe Allen has been good in past games but he does not provide enough attacking impetus to function on the break in games like these. 

Prediction - 3-2 to Liverpool - I expect Leicester to come hard at Liverpool but leaving vulnerabilities in the process. I do not think the Liverpool defence will be able to keep Leicester out but at the same time I expect Liverpool to have too much in the tank for this struggling Leicester team. 

No comments:

Post a Comment