How often do teams make that daunting trip to Anfield with the genuine expectation that they will win over Jurgen Klopp’s juggernaut of one side?
Liverpool are unbeaten at home in 63 games, have gotten off to a good start to the season despite a tough series of games and yet those baileys could take quite a hit this weekend.
To call this game a banana peel for the Premier League champions is an undercutting. The new £ 50 million training base could just as well be a luxury rehab center given the Reds’ stunning list of injuries and Leicester will think they are there for the taking.
Liverpool will face the biggest test of this Premier League season in Leicester City on Sunday
The Foxes will confidently enter Sunday’s game at Anfield at the top of the table
They say styles make fights and Brendan Rodgers’ swashbuckling XI look is tailored to deliver a knockout.
The basis of so much of Liverpool’s recent success has been their solid line of defense, but it has been decimated by injury.
Virgil van Dijk is out for the season with his cruciate ligament injury and his sidekick Joe Gomez has also been sidelined for the long haul after a tear in his patellar tendon while training in England.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, so often a focal point for the team on both offense and defense, suffered a calf injury against Manchester City and Andy Robertson recently modified a hamstring on international duty, although he could still be playing on Sunday.
The Reds have eliminated Trent Alexander-Arnold (right) with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson doubting
In midfield, Jordan Henderson faces a late assessment after feeling a bummer on England’s duty, Thiago Alcantara hasn’t played since Richarlison’s horror tackle on him in the Merseyside derby and Fabinho returns to fitness after incurring a hamstring injury.
Mo Salah, the team’s main threat with eight in the league this season, is isolating after contracting the coronavirus.
Even understudy right back Neco Williams who missed Wales’s game against Finland is questionable for the weekend with a foot injury.
It has to be said that Leicester himself has huge back injury problems, Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira are not expected to be available, Caglar Soyuncu and Daniel Amartey are absent for a long time and Wesley Fofana is facing a scan on his knee.
Leicester worried about injuries with Timothy Castagne (left) and Wesley Fofana (right) having doubts
But it is Liverpool who are ashamed of the numbers in the back of this campaign. They conceded an average of two goals per game, earning them a tie for 19th place in the league.
It is the job of an improvised rearguard group to change that on Sunday. James Milner could use as right back with Joel Matip and possibly Fabinho in the middle and Robertson or Kostas Tsimikas next to it.
The statistics make for grim reading. Only Sheffield United has kept less clean sheets this season than Liverpool (1).
And when opponents create a shooting opportunity, Liverpool has the third highest xG per face (0.14).
Liverpool’s defense is a concern, only Sheffield United have fewer shutouts than them
Jamie Vardy has started the season well and Leicester has the third highest xG total this season
All of this will be music to Rodgers and Leicester, flying high at the top of the Premier League table.
Jamie Vardy is already on eight goals and James Maddison is also starting to play nicely. Liverpool’s weaknesses are precisely the areas the Foxes can exploit.
Leicester has the third highest xG total in the Premier League and the highest of any team Liverpool has seen so far this season.
What will scare the Reds, however, is that Sunday’s visitors take the top flight in two key metrics.
Leicester has the best coverage in the league, scoring one out of four shots
A striking 24 percent conversion rate puts them in the top spot, with a score of nearly one in four shots, meaning their xG per shot is 0.18.
The Foxes are only in 14th place in shots per game (9.4), but if they have a chance, chances are the ball will end up in the back of the net.
If the statistics don’t show clearly enough just how badly the Liverpool side currently matches Leicester on paper, their playstyle is another common thread in the argument.
While their 7-2 quash by Aston Villa served as a wake-up call – they haven’t lost since – it clearly showed the ways Liverpool can be hurt.
Liverpool showed in their 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa that their high line could be their own downfall
Pace behind the high line, the technical ability to beat a man in midfield to free up space and rake diagonal balls across the top all create huge vulnerabilities for Klopp’s men.
A closer look at the urgent frontline teams Leicester faced this season will also concern Liverpool fans.
Their former manager has orchestrated sensational victories over Manchester City and then Leeds. Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa’s styles, while different from Klopp’s Liverpool in some ways, contain similar elements.
The Midlands club took City to the cleaners in a 5-2 thump at the Etihad in September and had way too much quality on the hiatus for Leeds, beating the exciting new boys 4-1.
Leicester has packed a big scalp this season, including a 5-2 win in Man City (above)
Will Klopp tinker with his much-changed side to be more careful? It does not seem in the nature of a man who opted for a 4-2-4 formation away from City for the international break.
The bookmakers are rarely wrong and the odds for this game support the above points.
Liverpool can be won almost immediately on Sunday and the money men clearly think this will be as difficult for the Reds as everything indicates.
A porous defense against a devastating attack, one side with a vulnerability to counterattack and another with relentless efficiency at the break, an injury-ridden defense against a clinical attacker … it’s now guaranteed 0-0.