Leicester City travel to Anfield today to square-up against defending Premier League champion, Liverpool, who are yet to drop a point in the seven-week old league. The Foxes will however be buoyed by their last week 5-0 demolition of Newcastle and also hope to exploit on the shaky Reds defence that chipped in three goals in 20 minutes against RB Salzburg in midweek UEFA Champions League encounter. But against a free-scoring Livepool side that is desperate to win the Premier League for the first time, the Foxes will have another think coming
But for a former Reds Captain-Steven Gerrard stumble five-and-a-half-years ago against Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers might well be idolised by the Liverpool faithful and Jurgen Klopp’s love affair with an adoring Kop may have never got started.
Such thoughts spring to mind as Klopp’s impressive side with 16 wins in a row, prepare to host Rodgers’ third-placed Leicester City in today’s big match at Anfield.
Another win would put Liverpool eight points clear of champions Manchester City, who host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
Had Rodgers’ Liverpool beaten Chelsea that April Sunday and claimed a 12th successive win, they would have been five points clear at the top with two games remaining and within touching distance of a first title since 1990.
They lost 2-0 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Manchester City pipped Liverpool by two points to win their second Premier League title and Liverpool went on the slide, finishing sixth the following season.
Rodgers was sacked in October 2015 and a few days later Klopp arrived to begin a journey that, while yet to deliver the Holy Grail of a Premier League title, took Liverpool to last season’s Champions League title, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the final.
Rodgers, meanwhile, mopped up two Scottish Premiership titles and numerous other silverware at Celtic – a feat some might suggest was no more challenging than shooting fish in a bath tub.
In February this year, with a third Scottish Premiership title almost in the bag, Rodgers quit to take over at Leicester in the wake of Claude Puel’s sacking and they have thrived ever since.
Since his first weekend in charge in March, Leicester have amassed 31 Premier League points – a total beaten only by Liverpool (49) and Manchester City (46).
Liverpool have won their opening seven league games of the season but there has been the odd blemish of late.
Klopp’s side were forced to hang on for a 1-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend and in midweek surrendered a 3-0 lead at home to Salzburg in the Champions League before winning 4-3.
After a 5-0 hammering of Newcastle United last weekend, a vibrant Leicester side look the most likely to gatecrash the top four and will potentially offer Liverpool their toughest test of the domestic season so far.
Winger Marc Albrighton, who was part of the Leicester fairytale in 2016 when they won the Premier League under Claudio Ranieri, believes the current side is better than that one.
“We’re a different team now, we’ve got different qualities, but we’re a force going forward, we’re exciting to watch and it’s great to be a part of,” he said.
“Back then, we had one way of playing, that’s all we knew.”
Klopp has however warned his Liverpool defence that Jamie Vardy will run riot today if they defend like they did during the 4-3 victory over RB Salzburg in the Champions League.
The Reds threw away a three-goal lead at home to the Austrian side on Wednesday night before Mohamed Salah rescued the victory.
And with the visit of third-place Leicester to Anfield this weekend, Klopp knows his side must improve if they are to continue their 100 per cent record this season.
“I am sure Brendan Rodgers thinks if we defend like we did tonight then probably Jamie Vardy will run five times alone with the goalkeeper,” said Klopp.
“It was a very important lesson for us tonight. We will learn but we have to learn quick.
I knew before that we have to improve a lot but now everybody knows it probably.”
“It was far away from being a perfect game but it was a typical Liverpool game, very exciting.
I thought after the game maybe I am angry but I realised I am not angry, so why should I show up as if I am angry?
“I respect the performance of the opponent and saw a lot of good things from us. We can do better. We will do better. That’s it.”
Meanwhile, Leicester City star James Maddison is reportedly hopeful that he will be able to recover from an ankle injury and feature against Liverpool this weekend.
The 22-year-old missed his side’s win over Newcastle United last weekend due to the injury blow; although the Foxes didn’t particularly miss his presence given they secured a 5-0 win.
However, given he has bagged two goals and two assists in seven appearances so far this season, his influence and creative quality is a pivotal part of Leicester’s play and early success.
Rodgers takes his side to Anfield today, and he’ll be hoping that he has his star man back in contention to face the Reds.
The 22-year-old is said to be hopeful that he would feature against Liverpool this weekend and that in turn could ensure that he proves his fitness to England boss Gareth Southgate to warrant a spot in his squad for the upcoming international break.
For Leicester, his availability this weekend will be the most important issue at hand, and they’ll hope that if Maddison is called up by England, that he’ll avoid aggravating the problem while on international duty.