You know that things have gone horribly wrong when your manager wins the 2016 Best FIFA Men’s Coach award in January, and less than a month later you’ve fired the man. The 2016-17 season has been one long, torturous wake-up call for Leicester City following their fairy tale title-winning run last year. In a season of lows, the shock dismissal of Claudio Ranieri might be the lowest point yet. On Monday, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool will try to add another page to this chapter.
When interim manager Craig Shakespeare gives his pre-match team talk at the King Power Stadium, he will be doing so to a squad that is currently in the relegation zone with just thirteen matches to go. After their match against Liverpool, Leicester City will still have to take on Sevilla as they hang on for dear life in Europe, and will also have to face Tottenham and Manchester City in their attempt to stave off relegation. It’s not an ideal state of affairs.
Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner
Lallana, Henderson, Wijnaldum
Mané, Firmino, Coutinho
Danny Ings is still of course out for the season, while Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge have only just recently returned from a knee issue and a virus respectively. There’s an outside chance Lovren might be healthy enough to start, but the reappearance of Lucas in the middle would likely be the more cautious approach (stop giggling!) unless Ragnar Klavan is given another chance. Simon Mignolet looks likely to be called upon once again in goal.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are in reasonably good health even as quality depth continues to be a concern. Barring incident, it’s likely that we’ll see a similar midfield and forward trio as what we saw against Tottenham two weeks ago. If Liverpool can conjure up the same type of dizzying start to the match at King Power Stadium as they did at Anfield, the defending champions might have a long night ahead of them.
Klopp will, however, be wary of a team seemingly on the ropes. Sudden managerial changes are a bit of a roll of the dice, and it’s difficult to say how Leicester City’s players will react to the situation given that some of them have been accused of bad faith in connection with Ranieri’s departure. Klopp noted that Jamie Vardy and others may have gotten something of a confidence boost from scoring an away goal at Sevilla, and that this confidence may be a factor when Liverpool visit.
As is often the case at this stage of the season, both sides need a win, but for very different reasons. Liverpool need to show they can keep pace with the other Champions League hopefuls, and they really need to show that they’ve turned the page on a truly dismal start to 2017. Tottenham bounced back from their defeat at Anfield with a commanding victory over Stoke City, and if Liverpool stumble away from home, securing a top four spot becomes an even bigger hill to climb with Arsenal, Manchester City, and Everton still ahead.
Leicester City are of course in a fight simply for Premier League survival at this point - the type of fight most of the world expected them to be in before their truly magical run last year. They’ve lost their last five contests in the Premier League and, to put it mildly, have struggled to score. Liverpool supporters will hope the goal against Sevilla was not a sign of things to come, as for all their travails, this is still a Leicester City squad with some dangerous talent in it.
Kickoff is set for 8:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST tomorrow on Sky Sports 1 in the UK and NBC Sports in the United States. Online radio coverage is provided by BBC Radio. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet World in Canada, Star Sports Select in India, Supersport3 Africa in Kenya, Astro Supersport 3 in Malaysia, and Stöð 2 Sport in Iceland are carrying the match. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.