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Preview: Liverpool vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Liverpool vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday's Premier League meeting between leaders Liverpool and Leicester City.
By , Senior Reporter | 4mo

Premier League leaders Liverpool return to action on Wednesday evening with a home match against an out-of-form Leicester City side.

The Reds have had 11 days off since beating Crystal Palace in a seven-goal thriller, having crashed out of both domestic cup competitions.


While title rivals Manchester City were taking on Burton Albion in the EFL Cup and Burnley in the FA Cup, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp took his players to Dubai for some warm-weather training.

The Reds headed into their winter break of sorts with a number of injury issues, which will not have fully cleared up for this return to top-flight action.

Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month, though, and losing some key men to injuries, Liverpool have won back-to-back league matches to remain clear of Man City at the top.

Since losing 2-1 to the champions, reducing the gap at the top from seven points to four, Klopp's men have edged out Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at the Amex Stadium - Mohamed Salah scoring a contentious penalty to settle that one - and defeated Palace 4-3 at Anfield.

That thriller on January 19 gave Liverpool another chance to show their true character, as they battled back from a goal down and then 2-2 to pick up three points for the 19th time this season.

The win over Palace also extended the Reds' unbeaten run at Anfield to 32 matches in the Premier League - the longest such run in the division since Man City went 37 games without defeat between December 2010 and December 2012.

Liverpool are also unbeaten in their last 19 home midweek games in the Premier League (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), winning 13 of those and drawing six since a 1-0 loss vs. Fulham in May 2012.

The last seven of those games have ended in victory, and they could now make it eight in a row for the first time since March 2010. One positive for opponents Leicester to hold on to, however, is that Liverpool conceded as many goals against Palace as they had in their previous 15 outings at Anfield combined.

Klopp's side still boast the best defensive record in the division, conceding four goals fewer than next best Man City, though their injury issues are beginning to tell. The week-and-a-half break may have come at the perfect time for the leaders, but they now need to hit the ground running as any sort of slip-up will allow the Citizens to pounce.

Recent form in Premier League: WWWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWLLWW

Leicester City

Claude Puel never seems to be more than a couple of games away from being sacked, and three losses on the spin - including a shock FA Cup exit at Newport County - seemingly leaves him on the brink of exiting the King Power Stadium.

Reports suggest that Leicester intend to push ahead with their transfer business over the remaining few days of the winter window, with Monaco's Youri Tielemans a possible target, but Puel is surely now living on borrowed time.

As well as losing to League Two side Newport at the third-round stage of the FA Cup - a decision that did not go down well with supporters due to a second-string XI being fielded - City have also lost to Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league.

It is the eighth time the Foxes have lost consecutive league matches under Puel, though they have not lost three in a row in the competition since February 2017 under Claudio Ranieri.

If the 4-3 defeat to Midlands rivals Wolves was a little harsh, conceding a fourth goal in the final seconds of play, then there can be no complaints about the performance in the 2-1 home loss to strugglers Southampton that preceded it.

Puel's men do have a decent record against the division's big boys, though, having defeated Chelsea and Man City in back-to-back matches either side of Christmas, sandwiched by losses to Palace and Cardiff City.

However, Leicester have lost each of their last 11 Premier League games against sides starting the day top of the table, conceding at least twice every time (27 in total) and netting just five in return. Their last such win came in January 1998 at Manchester United.

United are next up for City after this trip to Anfield, closely followed by a clash with Tottenham Hotspur, so it could easily get worse before it gets better for the mid-table side.

Recent form in Premier League: WWLWLL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLL

Team News

Dejan Lovren has returned to full training for Liverpool since the Palace win but may be eased back into action, leaving Joel Matip as the obvious choice to fit in alongside key man Virgil van Dijk if that is the case.

Klopp still has a problem at right-back, though, as Trent Alexander-Arnold is not over a knee issue, the versatile Joe Gomez is struggling with an ankle injury and makeshift defender James Milner is suspended.

Fabinho, himself able to slot into different positions, is therefore likely to start at right-back, and Georginio Wijnaldum should be available again after recently picking up a knee injury.

Leicester will wait until the last minute before making a decision on Harry Maguire, meanwhile, with the centre-back limping off against Wolves in City's most recent match.

Daniel Amartey will definitely feature, but Puel does at least have options further up the field as Harvey Barnes and Demarai Gray are pushing for inclusion.

One man expected to start is Jamie Vardy, who has scored seven goals against Liverpool - only Andy Cole (11) and Thierry Henry (8) have managed more.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Fabinho, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Mendy, Ndidi; Pereira, Madison, Albrighton; Vardy

Head To Head

Liverpool have won their last three league games against Leicester - they last won four in a row against them between February 1987 and September 1986.

City have lost six of their last seven away games against the Reds in the Premier League, with their only win at Anfield coming in May 2000.

The reverse fixture earlier this season ended 2-1 to Liverpool - Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino netting before Rachid Ghezzal pulled one back.

We say: Liverpool 2-0 Leicester City

This will be Liverpool's 10th Premier League game as the side starting top of the table, but the pressure is likely to be on as second-placed Man City take on Newcastle United 24 hours beforehand. The Reds have passed nearly every test so far this term, though, and this one should be no different.

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