Leicester vs Liverpool | Saturday 13th February 2021, 12:30 | BT Sport
Defending champions Liverpool are seeing their crown slide. Last Sunday’s 4-1 defeat against Man City sees them in fourth place, 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men. They’re now in a battle for Champions League spots along with Saturday's hosts Leicester, who already sit three points better off than them in that quest.
Despite the errors made by Alisson last week ultimately proving costly, he and his team-mates have had a week off to prepare for this tough trip to the Midlands.
That can’t be said for Leicester. They were involved in the FA Cup 5th Round action on Wednesday, seeing off Brighton 1-0 after Kelechi Iheanacho’s 95th-minute header – a collector’s item.
However, the victory was overshadowed by the serious-looking knee injury sustained by James Justin. He could be out for the rest of the campaign, and given his excellent performances, an England call-up looked on the cards, so it’s a big blow to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The betting angles
Liverpool have lost their last two Premier League games, and it’s the first time that’s happened since Jürgen Klopp’s arrival. The last time the Reds lost three in a row in the league was November 2014 when Brendan Rodgers was in the Anfield hot seat.
Could Rodgers inflict that on his former club?
Well, the Foxes haven’t beaten Liverpool in the league since February 2017, a run that’s seen six defeats and just one draw – an aggregate score of 17-6 to the current champions.
It is a clash that does usually throw up goals. Seven of the last nine seeing both teams scoring, while the Reds have scored 2+ times in seven of the last nine as well.
The Foxes have top scorer Jamie Vardy back, which is a welcome boost, while the form of James Maddison could see him getting an England call-up. He’s been involved in six goals in his last six home league games (four goals and two assists).
So, with Liverpool’s defensive woes being there for all to see at times, you have to expect a similar goals trend here. In fact, they’ve kept just one clean sheet in nine games in all comps in 2021.
Leicester’s home form this season has been more patchy than usual – W5, D1, L5. In those 11 games at the King Power, they average 1.45 goals for and 1.36 goals against, so having both teams to score as part of a bet builder is the way to go
And if you pair it up with both teams over 0 cards, you’ve got a nice 7/5 play. Adding in cards looks a good angle given how open this game could be meaning a few cynical fouls.
The Foxes have had at least one card in 21/23 games, with seven of nine in games here at the King Power. Liverpool have had at least one card in 15/23 games, while it’s eight of 11 in their away games.
I’m more than happy to take cards with Anthony Taylor having the whistle, although he’s calmed down ever so slightly this season with games still behind closed doors.
This term, the Cheshire-based arbiter has shown at least two cards in 19 of his 22 games in all competitions. Plus, in his two games involving the Foxes, he’s shown both teams a card in each.
Taylor has awarded Rodgers’ side three penalties. I won’t lie, I did consider the hosts to score a penalty at 5/1 given they’ve had 10 this term, while Liverpool have given away the joint-most.
Since Leicester returned to the top-flight in 2014/15, these sides have met 14 times in league and cup. 11 of those games have seen both sides picking up over 0 cards.
And when Taylor took charge of a clash in September 2017, he dished out six yellows, 60 booking points, with three cards or 30 booking points each team, however, you prefer.
While we’re talking cards, I have to play Thiago to be carded. His price is starting to shorten week-by-week, but that’s understandable because he’s hardly subtle.
There’s no doubt he’s technically gifted, but he’s a walking yellow card when Liverpool are out of possession.
The 29-year-old has played 748 minutes in the Premier League, starting eight times. He’s picked up three yellow cards, including one inside two minutes against Man City on Sunday.
In seven of his nine league appearances, he’s committed three-plus fouls. He just draws attention, and that’s not going to escape Taylor’s gaze. And he puts himself about – he’s made 15 tackles in his last three games, including three which all came in the first-half v Man City, straight after his caution.
Given the quick, tricky nature of Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez and Maddison, not forgetting the marauding Youri Tielemans, then the Spaniard could find himself in the notebook once more. The 12/1 on him first in could be enticing as well.
Away from cards and goals, it’s worth noting that the Foxes don’t defend set pieces particularly well. Look to see who Klopp starts before deciding who to back – new signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies are in the fray.