At risk of inching ever closer to relegation from the Premier League, Leicester City’s penultimate home game of the season takes place on Monday night, as top-four chasing Liverpool visit the King Power Stadium.
Dean Smith’s sorry side ended up on the wrong end of a 5-3 scoreline in a frenzied Bank Holiday battle with Fulham last time out, while the Reds kept up their pursuit of Champions League football by overcoming Brentford 1-0.
Sparking a mad-cap trio of Bank Holiday Monday fixtures, where no fewer than 21 goals flew into the back of the net in three fixtures, eight of those came at Craven Cottage, where a merciless Fulham deepened Leicester’s demotion fears in one of the games of the season so far.
Smith’s side were loudly booed off by their travelling fans at half time, by which point Willian, Carlos Vinicius and Tom Cairney had propelled the hosts into a merited 3-0 lead, and despite ‘winning’ the second half 3-2 as Fulham took their foot off the gas, a ghastly first 45 had already done the damage.
Smith was in no mood to reward his players with a customary day off following their Craven Cottage calamity, and for the time being, the gap to safety stands at just two points before Everton meet Manchester City on Monday – Leeds United’s draw with Newcastle United on Saturday bumped them down to 19th place, though.
While some of the signs in the final third have been encouraging for Leicester – who have scored in nine of their last 10 top-flight fixtures and eight times in their last four – the Foxes remain without a Premier League clean sheet since the World Cup hiatus, conceding at least once 20 games running.
Taking points off of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton in their last two home fixtures may offer the dejected home crowd a sliver of hope as well – having previously witnessed five successive defeats before that – but with Newcastle United and a resurgent West Ham United to come in their final two games, the need for a third-straight home win over Liverpool is a desperate one.
Liverpool may have come up short in their last two visits to the King Power, but Jurgen Klopp’s inspired troops will pay no attention to the history books as they seek a seventh successive Premier League win to continue their end-of-season surge.
The visit of Brentford, albeit an ailing Brentford, was never expected to be a walk in the park for the Reds, who eked out a slender success thanks to Mohamed Salah’s close-range volley – his 19th Premier League goal of the season and his 100th at Anfield in all competitions.
Results elsewhere this weekend will not impact Liverpool’s fifth-placed standing in the Premier League table, but Man United’s success over Wolverhampton Wanderers has taken the Red Devils four points clear of their Merseyside counterparts on the same number of matches.
While the visitors’ hot streak is there to be admired, each of their last five triumphs have come by just the one goal since their 6-1 demolition job of Leeds – no team since Everton in 2002 has won six straight games by a one-goal margin – but ugly victories are far more desirable than goal-laden draws or defeats for Liverpool at this stage of the season.
As mentioned, Liverpool have been put to the sword during their last two away games versus Leicester – a 3-1 defeat in February 2021 before a 1-0 loss in December of that year – but the Reds exacted revenge with an unorthodox 2-1 Anfield win in December 2022, as Wout Faes paid homage to a present Jamie Carragher with a pair of own goals.
One minor positive for Smith on Monday was that his side picked up no fresh injury concerns – Jonny Evans was also fit enough to make the bench – leaving the hosts with a quartet of absentees for the visit of Liverpool.
Ryan Bertrand (fitness), James Justin (calf) and Jannik Vestergaard (calf) will watch the final three games of the season from the sidelines, while striker Kelechi Iheanacho (groin) is ahead of schedule in his recuperation and should be back in training next week, but Monday’s game will come too soon for him.
On the back of their harrowing afternoon in the capital, Smith will no doubt consider alterations in the forms of Tete, Patson Daka, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and the fit-again Ricardo Pereira, while Daniel Iversen – like most of those in blue – did not cover himself in glory against Fulham, but the Dane should keep Danny Ward at bay again.
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Klopp has confirmed that neither Roberto Firmino nor Naby Keita will recover from their muscular problems in time for Monday’s match, although the former could return to training last week as he pushes for an on-field farewell.
Stefan Bajcetic (adductor), Calvin Ramsay (knee) and Thiago Alcantara (hip) are continuing their recoveries from season-ending injuries, and Klopp made the bold decision to line up with four out-and-out attackers for the visit of Brentford last weekend, although Jordan Henderson’s knock may have contributed to that.
Henderson was fit enough to come off the bench and should now be considered for a first XI recall, while Luis Diaz was also only given a cameo role against the Bees but will come into contention to take the place of Darwin Nunez.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Iversen; Pereira, Faes, Soyuncu, Castagne; Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall; Tete, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz