Many Liverpool fans will be expecting an open, attacking game against Leicester tomorrow but there are a few reasons why that might not be the case.
1) Leicester don’t score many and they don’t create clear cut chances
Considering they scored five against Newcastle last week, you may be thinking this is a mistake, but if you discount the Magpies result, they have actually only scored eight goals in their other six games.
The main reason for this can be found in the fact their chance creation is pretty poor. Out of the 20 Premier League teams, they have the fifth-lowest xG (7.77) and the second-lowest when it comes to their xG per shot (0.087).
That means that despite having a number of shots this season, they don’t necessarily shoot from positions that are classed as clear cut opportunities. If you contrast that with 0.133 xG per shot that Liverpool’s previous opponents Red Bull Salzburg have managed this season, the Austrians are 1.5x likelier to score when shooting.
2) Leicester are very good defensively
Liverpool may find it hard to break down the Foxes based on their early season form at the back. Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans have developed a very good partnership following the departure of Harry Maguire to Manchester United.
They have conceded just five goals, the same as Liverpool, whilst also having a better xG goals against than the Reds. 6.22 is the second-lowest number in the league from the first seven games of the season so the Merseyside club will need to take their chances when they get them as they may not get that many.
3) Pressing will cause disruption
Liverpool are used to having teams sit off them at Anfield. It has meant a change in Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy whereby the focus has been on having a higher defensive line and keeping teams under pressure in their own half.
It leads to them getting a lot of possession so they can control games but it also means the Reds don’t need to use counter-pressing very often at home, unless they are up against top teams.
When a team goes against the grain, as Red Bull Salzburg did, it can lead to problems in terms of the approach. Klopp mentioned after the match on Wednesday night that some of his players didn’t know whether they should be controlling the game or pressing for another goal.
That disruption to the tactics could also be on display tomorrow. Leicester press the most of any team in the league, and they don’t discriminate away from home. Their PPDA (passes per defensive action) on the road this campaign is 6.56.
In contrast, the opponent’s average PPDA at Anfield this season is 17.88. That means we can expect a lot of turnovers tomorrow and not necessarily a lot of free-flowing attacking moves. Much may depend on how the Reds perform in terms of breaking the press.
As you can see, then, this is going to be an intriguing match up but not necessarily because of what some people expect.