Liverpool vs. Leicester City
Venue: Anfield Stadium
Kick off: 3PM
Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield this afternoon for the first time since leaving Liverpool when his high-flying Leicester City side come to town.
Both teams have made impressive starts to the season, with Liverpool still perfect in the league after seven games and Leicester sitting third in the table.
Rodgers will likely be warmly received at Anfield on his first return to the stadium, having gone a long way to laying the foundations for the success which has followed under his successor Jurgen Klopp.
The Northern Irishman was sometimes a figure of ridicule during his time in the Liverpool dugout, but he took the Reds back into the Champions League and to within a whisker of the Premier League title before leaving in October 2015.
Rodgers’s reputation when leaving was perhaps lower than it should have been, but he has firmly rebuilt that now following a trophy-laden spell at Celtic and a very promising start to life as Leicester boss.
Indeed, since he was appointed only Liverpool and Manchester City have picked up more points in the Premier League – a statistic which proves that Leicester’s current position of third in the table is no fluke.
The Foxes actually have more points now than they did at the same stage of their unforgettable title-winning season and, while the relentless standard of the 2019-20 leading pack makes a repeat of that miracle highly unlikely, a top-six or even top-four challenge looks entirely within their capability.
Certainly, they will expect to hold their own against any of the traditional big boys – they have already beaten Tottenham Hotspur and drawn with Chelsea this season – and will therefore have more belief than most that they can pull off an upset at Anfield.
Plenty of teams have tried and failed to do that in recent times, though, and an away game against Liverpool is arguably the toughest assignment in world football at the moment.
The stats suggest just that – Liverpool’s 43-match unbeaten league run at Anfield is the longest current streak in Europe’s top five leagues and the second-longest in their history, after only a 63-game streak between February 1978 and December 1980.
The fact that that run was ended by Leicester will not be lost on the more studious of football historians, but Klopp’s side do look almost unstoppable at home right now, winning their last 12 Anfield outings across all competitions.
That streak, which is their best since 16 in a row in 1985, did come under serious threat in midweek, though, with Red Bull Salzburg almost pulling off exactly the type of Champions League comeback Liverpool themselves have become famous for.
It looked as though Liverpool might rival Bayern Munich’s scoring prowess when they raced into a 3-0 lead inside 36 minutes, only for Salzburg to produce a remarkable fightback and restore parity. Eventually the Reds did secure the win through Mohamed Salah’s strike, but it was a game which went a long way to damaging the aura of invincibility around Klopp’s side at Anfield.
It remains to be seen whether Leicester are brave enough to give it as much of a go as a Salzburg side playing in what could be the biggest game in a lot of their careers, but it would have given the Foxes confidence that an open, expansive style can still hurt a Liverpool side that usually relishes such space.
Ultimately, though, it was another win for the Merseysiders – their fourth in a row and 10th from their last 11 outings, including a perfect record of seven wins from seven in the Premier League.
Another win this weekend would ensure that they go into the second international break of the season with at least a five-point lead at the top, which would be a welcome cushion to have considering they face bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in their next outing after this one.
Matches against Genk, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are also to come in a difficult October, although Liverpool will go into every game now expecting to win having chalked up 16 victories in a row in the Premier League.
Only Manchester City under Pep Guardiola a couple of years ago have ever recorded a better run in English top-flight football, meaning that a win on Saturday would enable Liverpool to equal that mark of 18 successive wins at Old Trafford.
Liverpool possible XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Leicester possible XI: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Perez, Maddison, Ndidi, Tielemans, Barnes, Vardy.