Leicester City have looked good since former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers took over from ousted manager Claude Puel in February. Really good in fact, as Reds supporters will have been keen to notice.
With a mere two matchdays to play in the Premier League season and Liverpool a measly point behind Manchester City in the standings, Liverpool’s quest for a league title arguably rests on Rodgers’ ability to snatch points from the Citizens when his side take on the defending champions on Monday.
It will be Reds supporters more than any who will be hailing the Foxes’ improved form that has seen them win six of Rodgers’ nine matches in charge and talking up Jamie Vardy’s threat on the counter.
Even without the hype around the proxy struggle between the two top clubs in the country, with Leicester fighting for an unofficial ‘Best of The Rest’ seventh-place finish that would provide them with a shout at European competition next term, the Ulsterman admitted that the fixture is already a significant one:
“These are exciting games in this last period of the season and we will look to give our best,” Rodgers explained.
”Our only concern is ourselves. We have to concentrate on our own performance enough to get some good results in these last three games. It then gives us a great springboard to finish the season, then have a real good pre-season to get ready for next year.
”We will be doing everything we can, in every game, to get a result so I think its a wonderful opportunity for us. It’s certainly not a negative.”
Of course, taking points from the matchup with Pep Guardiola’s City would feed The Narrative of the ex-Liverpool manager avenging a second-place finish to the same opponent in 2013-14’s magical title run. It is only human of course, but Rodgers understandably refused to be drawn in:
“Not really,” he diplomatically responded when asked whether the chance at revenge played any part in his approach to the match. “I am employed by Leicester. My focus is on Leicester City.
“There’s no comparison really. Liverpool back then was at a different stage. We had young players, loan players. We went from eighth to second in a couple of years, and nearly won the title, so it’s a different dynamic. We deserved to finish where we did, which was second. We just didn’t quite get over the line over the course of 38 games.
“But we showed with young players that it is possible, and lot of those players, like Jordan Henderson, who is a fantastic player, he was a young player then, and those experiences he would have learned from.
“It’s exciting to be involved and being able to effect it but my thoughts are solely with Leicester and doing what we can to get a result.”
He added: “We respect that it will be a tough game for us but we have a game and a model that can beat any team.
“Our players are improving all the time, you know you have to defend very well, be strong, be aggressive, be compact. But we have speed and can be incisive to make the last pass.
“The importance is to ensure you defend well and you’re aggressive and then show qualities when we have the ball.”