Äntligen är landslagsuppehållet över, ett väldigt sargat Liverpool kliver in i hetluften mot Leicester, som inför omgången ledde tabellen. Brendan Rodgers mannar har, precis som förra säsongen, inlett starkt och det kommer krävas en hundraprocentig insats från det lag Klopp ställer på banan för att ta hem tre poäng. Austin Forbes(@OCplayer1) berättar här om hur Leicesters inledning varit och hur säsongens upplaga skiljer sig från fjolårets.
1. You started last season very good, but in the end missed out on Champions League on the last day. What where the main reasons for your drop in form towards the end of the season?
Injuries certainly did not help, but it seemed to be the fact that when our standard tactics didn’t work, Rodgers never had a plan B. It was plan A, and if that didn’t work, it seemed to be, oh well, we will try again next week. That, coupled with injuries to our main stars like Maddison, Chilwell, Ricardo, and Ndidi, also left us with multiple holes in our lineup that we just couldn’t fill with the guys we had last season; our lack of depth especially showed when 5 subs became a thing.
2. You are now top of the League, how do you rate your chances to stay in the title race?
As of right now, I am really optimistic, but the Leicester in me is absolutely not at all. Obviously, we are only 8 games into a 38 game season, but with players like Ndidi, Ricardo, and Soyuncu still to come back, I really think we have a shot at contending for a title. But Liverpool is always a fantastic side, and City, I feel, will pick it up soon with Pep’s new contract. Spurs look very good right now under Jose as well, so it will still be tough to contend this season.
3. Are there any differences between Leicester this season and 19/20?
Our main difference that I kind of alluded to in the first question was that we are just much better depth-wise this season. Our transfer window, which at first had all of our supporters angry because of the lack of movement right now, has turned out to be brilliant with players coming in like Castagne, Under, and Fofana. Couple that along with the resurgence of Tielemans and Mendy, the development of Justin and Thomas. Even with our injury problems, their replacements are playing so well that it’s going to be tough for those first-team players to get back into the squad, and the best example of that is Mendy and Ndidi. And still, with experienced players like Albrighton, Fuchs, and Morgan, we actually could survive if 5 substitutes come back this season.
4. What are your thoughts on Brendan Rodgers? How has he developed since he came to the club?
His most significant development is how this season, he has different plans on how to win games. We can go our familiar 4-3-3 and take the game to teams, but also we can be in a 5-3-2 and sit back and counter. This year, we can adapt to different teams and situations in games that we haven’t been able to do years past. Just look at this season; we won games 5-1 and 4-2 and won 2 matches 1-0. Now no one can plan only for one way we play. They have to prepare for different ways that we could line up.
5. Jamie Vardy has started this season very good, which other players have been your top performers?
Our midfield of Tielemans, Praet, and Mendy, for me, has been our underrated stars of the season. Tielemans looks like he did when we first brought him in on loan, and he looks so much fitter, and it is showing in his game. He is getting up and down the field, sitting back defending, and playing as a 10 when we needed him to when Maddison was out. Dennis Praet is a player that no one talks about; he might be the most consistent player on our team. Game in game out, Praet has given us great performances and lately has even played on the right, helping us so much when we have to sit back and defend. And lastly, Mendy, with the injury to Ndidi he had big shoes to step into. A lot of our fan base, including me, wanted him gone this summer. He and his energy has almost earned him a starting spot even when Ndidi comes back healthy enough to play again.
6. How is the injury situation for the game this weekend?
BR said that Castagne should be fit in his press conference, so it will be interesting to see what we do there and if he starts back at right-back. Sadly Pereira isn’t quite there yet, but he is playing a reserve game next week, giving our fans lots of hope as we can’t wait to see Castagne and Ricardo’s full-back combo. The best news was to hear that there was nothing wrong with Fofana as it was reported that he had a knee knock when he reported to France’s U21 team this international break.
7. What kind of game do expect to see at Anfield?
Honestly, this game could go so many different ways. If both sides were fully fit and ready to play, you would see us sit back and try to smash and grab points. But with all the injuries to Liverpool’s defense, I could also see us try to take the game to them and test out a young/makeshift backline for 90 minutes. But these injuries make me nervous that Liverpool is going to play like they have nothing to lose. I think it will be a goal-fest with us coming out as 3-2 victors with Liverpool making it a 1 goal game in the last 15 minutes and us be on our heels but sneak out a victory.