Are Leicester Serious Premier League Title Contenders?

The league leaders travel to reigning champions Liverpool this Sunday, hoping to take advantage of Jurgen Klopp’s depleted Reds

Are Leicester Serious Premier League Title Contenders?

Leicester City travel to Anfield this Sunday hoping to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League table.

An away win for the Foxes would mean Leicester have beaten the last two league champions on the road inside the opening nine games of the season.

It would be a remarkable feat and, given Liverpool’s injury crisis, it’s a very feasible outcome in the eyes of the bookmakers regardless of Jurgen Klopp’s incredible home record in the league.

Most betting apps rate Leicester’s chances of a win around the 11/4 mark, which is much shorter than usual for a visiting side to Anfield, but Liverpool (10/11) look particularly vulnerable at the back without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, four wins from four on the road this season in the Premier League puts Brendan Rodgers’ side in a strong position, yet their title odds (25/1) suggest they're well short of favourites Manchester City (6/4) and defending champions Liverpool (13/8).

Latest Premier League Title Odds

TeamOdds
Man City6/4
Liverpool13/8
Chelsea8/1
Tottenham10/1
Leicester25/1
Man Utd25/1
Arsenal66/1

With the current table-toppers and 2015-16 champions only fifth in the betting pecking order, are Leicester being written off again?

“I think people are taking them seriously,” former Leicester and Liverpool striker Emile Heskey told bookmakers.co.uk.

“Whether they’re title contenders or not, they are a big threat to anyone in the league and since this is such a crazy season you never know who’s going to be in the race towards the end of the season.”

This weekend’s meeting has the extra intrigue of pitting Rodgers against Klopp, the man who succeeded him as Liverpool boss in 2015.

Rodgers guided Liverpool to a second-place finish in 2013-14 and has often been criticised for failing to get the Reds over the line that season having held their destiny in their own hands in the final stages of the campaign.

However, a defeat and a draw in two of their final three games handed control back to Manchester City, meaning Liverpool had to wait another six years to land their first league title since 1990 under the guidance of Klopp.

Having excelled in roles with Celtic and Leicester since, Heskey believes Rodgers has already proven his doubters wrong as he returns to Anfield hoping to keep Klopp’s side at bay.

He said: “Brendan has come on leaps and bounds with his tactics, shown that he’s not just an attack-minded manager. He’s proven that he can play different formations and strategies based on the opposition which has really complemented the way his team plays.

“He had shown that in the past anyway but I think it’s more prevalent right now with the results this Leicester team have been getting and I think he’s finally getting the plaudits he deserves for that.”

Foxes To Prey On Youngsters

With Klopp likely to field an inexperienced back four, the onus will be on Leicester to put them to the sword, and Heskey believes Jamie Vardy has the ruthlessness to exploit whatever centre-back pairing Klopp comes up with.

“At the end of the day, as a striker you’ll always try and sniff out the weaknesses and you’ll rarely find two centre-backs together who are both comfortable on the ball,” he said. “When you pinpoint the one who is less comfortable you try to put pressure on him and see how he copes.

“When you come up against a young lad in defence you want to see how they cope with the occasion early on. It’s not going to be quite the same as usual because without the crowd there’s less tension which could help the inexperienced players.

“It’ll be a little bit different in that sense, but make no mistake Jamie Vardy will be trying to identify weaknesses and he’ll look to exploit them.”

For all Klopp’s injury woes, Heskey admits it actually causes a slight headache for Rodgers too – the uncertainty over what personnel Liverpool will go with in their starting XI could hamper Leicester’s preparation and, as such, he’s expecting a close encounter.

“The amount of injuries Liverpool have had has been crazy,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game for them. Will they start feeling sorry for themselves if they fall behind or will they want to show that they’re still the best and go and win the game?

“It’s going to be a tough one to predict because we don’t know what sort of team Liverpool are able to put out and Brendan has the same problem because he might not be fully sure how to set up.

“I see it being a really tight game, maybe 1-1. I’m sitting firmly on that fence.”