Liverpool fans may well be more anxious about tonight’s match than the one they’re actually playing in tomorrow.
Incredibly, despite the Reds having a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona to think about, all eyes will be on whether or not their old manager Brendan Rodgers can do them a big favour as Leicester City take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
With a dramatic late win over Newcastle at the weekend, Liverpool are back on top of the Premier League table, but City have their game in hand tonight and can go a point ahead once again with a victory, taking things to the final day of the season.
However, with City taking on Brighton at the weekend, you’d imagine if Pep Guardiola’s side are going to buckle and allow Liverpool back into it, tonight might well be the last chance.
Leicester are a strong side in fine form, and here’s why LFC fans should have some cause for optimism about a potential City slip-up this evening…
1) Jamie Vardy’s record vs the big six
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy loves the big games – just take a look at the stat in the tweet below:
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 6, 2019
While City are no easy touch defensively, Vardy is good enough to trouble any defence in the world when he’s at full flow, and he’ll surely relish the occasion tonight.
2) The Brendan Rodgers factor
Brendan Rodgers is not only a fine manager capable of giving any of Europe’s elite a game, but he’ll also be motivated to do his old club a favour here.
The Northern Irishman had a good connection with the Anfield crowd in his time at the club, and was, in truth, rather unlucky to get sacked when he did, with the availability of Jurgen Klopp likely to have been a factor in that decision.
Rodgers will have his own reasons for wanting Leicester to get a result this evening, but he’ll be aware of the support flowing in from his old fans and that’s sure to give an extra layer of meaning to the game for him on a personal level.
3) City injury problems
City have a world class squad full of talent in every position, but don’t underestimate how much Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne could be missed.
As reported by the Express, both will be out against Leicester, meaning a potentially lightweight central midfield three of Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Bernardo Silva.
All three are fine players, but Fernandinho seems likely to be a particularly big loss, while De Bruyne is also a hugely important link between midfield and attack, contributing as much as anyone to this team’s success.
4) Youri Tielemans and James Maddison
With that Fernandinho injury in mind, this could be a great opportunity for Leicester to find space in behind Gundogan, who won’t be as adept at tracking attacking midfield players like Youri Tielemans and James Maddison.
Both have been superb for Leicester this season and are intelligent enough to get on the ball in dangerous areas where they can contribute a goal or play in the big-game expert Vardy.
City are used to dominating the ball, but expect Leicester to use possession a little more wisely than most teams in this league do, with these two players potentially a big threat to Guardiola’s defence tonight.
5) Liverpool piling the pressure
Jamie Carragher put this very well in the video below (from about 51 seconds in):
City players will have watched the Liverpool win over Newcastle, and will have felt the psychological impact of the Reds bagging that late Divock Origi winner.
However good a team is, with Liverpool continually piling that pressure on in every game, it means City players keep knowing they cannot afford any slip-ups.
They looked nervy against Burnley and managed only the narrowest of 1-0 wins as Sergio Aguero’s goal crept over the line.
Now they have to pick themselves up and do it again against a much better Leicester side, and eventually that pressure from their rivals might really start to tire them out.