Giant slayer & African studded Leicester take aim at Liverpool
The English Premier League enters matchday 24 from Tuesday all through Thursday, the 30th of January 2019. As usual, they are a couple of scintillating fixtures available to the lovers of the game but one stand out matchup should be that which has the Foxes of Leicester City visiting those “who will never walk alone,” the Reds of Anfield.
Liverpool enter this fixture sitting pretty at the top of the league, four points ahead of champions, Manchester City and have an opportunity to extend their lead to seven clear points. After a thoroughly entertaining and dominant first half of the season that saw the Reds complete 20 matches unbeaten, conceding only 8 goals and scoring the league’s second highest tally of 48 goals, they have had to recently learn how to grind results. Liverpool’s most recent 3 premier league matches have been far from convincing but have the word champions written all over them. After losing to Manchester City 2-1, Jurgen Klopp’s men had to dig deep at Brighton as they secured a precious 1-0 victory courtesy of the Egyptian, Mohamed Salah’s goal. They once again showed character and grit to narrowly see off Crystal Palace 4-3 at home, with Salah getting a brace to go top of the scoring charts ahead of African counterpart, Aubameyang. It won’t be any easier for the Reds who welcome struggling Leicester who have an impressive record of humbling the top sides of English football.
The Foxes have lost 4 of their last 5 matches in all competitions and pressure may be once again mounting for their gaffer, Claude Puel. The last time Puel got under pressure of being sacked is when he pulled off the miracle of beating Chelsea 1-0 away from home and Manchester City, 2-1 in the following fixture. Now, they also have Manchester United and Tottenham waiting in line after the Liverpool game and won’t be letting all of the 3 pass by without securing at least a point.
In recent weeks, tenth placed Leicester have had to rely heavily on the Nigerian international, Wilfried Ndidi in central midfield, who has been guiding relatively newcomers, Nampalys Mendy and Hamza Choudhury in that position. The 22-year-old Nigerian is as consistent as they come and remains one of the EPL’s top tackling midfielders with a total of 72 tackles so far in this campaign. Only Senegal’s Idrissa Gueye has had more in the midfield position at 83 tackles and defenders, Ricardo Pereira and Wan Bissaka completing the top four tacklers list with 82 and 80 respectively. Going up front, Leicester’s conservative approach that saw them register wins against Chelsea and City relied on the counter attacking pace of Jamie Vardy who has scored in all of his last 5 premier league appearances against Liverpool. Algerian, Rachid Ghezzal also provides width and commendable technical ability to the front line that is also supported by English international, James Maddison. Nigerian forward, Kelechi Iheanacho has always been a great backup plan to Vardy or an excellent supporting forward when asked to play with the former having already contributed 1 goal and 3 assists in 9 starts this campaign
Liverpool’s star studded squad needs no extra commendation, what they have achieved so far is reason enough not to doubt their devastating abilities. The Reds faithfuls will be happy to hear that Virgil Van Dijk and Wijnaldum could be available for selection after they had missed out training because of sickness and a knee problem. Mohamed Salah will be seeking more as he is now just 2 goals shy of becoming the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 premier league goals, surpassing Fernando Torres who did it in 72 appearances. Salah has only played 49 matches, so far.
Why you should watch this one?
With all of Guinean Naby Keita, Senegalese Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah, Nigerian Wilfried Ndidi, Algerian Rachid Ghezzal and Super Eagles’ Kelechi Iheanacho available for selection, there is a huge prospect of witnessing an “AFCON 2019” warm up match away from the continent.