Manchester United may field a just as many world-class attackers as Liverpool, may utilize an elite defensive midfielder such as Ngolo Kante, and just might have a revered veteran goalkeeper like David de Gea.
The Reds, however, are the club currently tearing up the Premier League with a dynamic and high-energy front line, a rising goalie in Alisson, and the best team chemistry of any EPL squad to take the field in the early stages of 2018-2019.
Liverpool is a solid moneyline favorite to topple host Leicester City in regulation and stoppage time at King Power Stadium on Saturday, having outscored their opponents 7 goals to none thus far.
6-to-1 payoff (+594) is at stake in the moneyline for a Leicester City victory with (+366) on a draw. The Foxes find themselves (+1) underdogs in the goal spread with a plus-payoff line (+105) if the fixture finishes to a draw or a Leicester win.
Leicester is being doubted due to not being undefeated, untied, and flawless in 3 fixtures like their hot-as-lava opponents. The scenario can be compared to that of a golfer who is 3 under par through 16 holes in the 1st round, but already trails in betting action due to a competitor notching a 62 out of the gate.
But truth be told, the Foxes have been superb overall. Their opening contest was a loss to United, but despite a Jamie Vardy red card in the 66th minute when facing the Wolves in the 2nd fixture, they pulled out a 2-0 victory.
The side held its composure against a raucous crowd in their 3rd contest. A hard-fought game at Southampton appeared to turn in favor of the Saints when brilliant Ryan Bertrand scored to break a 0-0 tie in the 52nd minute. Leicester striker Demarai Gray responded in no time to even the score, however, a feat followed by Harry McGuire’s tie-breaking goal late in the match.
Officially, the Foxes have only beaten Wolverhampton at full strength this season. Leicester clearly has the tools to beat anyone on a given Matchday, though, given the team’s penchant for scoring timely goals and playing clean soccer when things get tough in front of goalie Kasper Schmeichel. The club will knock off a few giants this season.
On the other hand, there is no denying the Reds have been on fire. Riding the momentum of adding Alisson in the offseason, the team blistered both Manchester clubs in the International Champions Cup. They then began the Premier League regular season with a tremendous 4-0 walloping of West Ham. Another shutout win over Crystal Palace was to follow.
Their 3rd match was a challenging contest against a stifling Brighton club. The underdogs secured 5 corner kicks and took the favorites to the very end despite only maintaining possession 30% of the fixture.
Liverpool will lose their first contest soon enough. Will it happen this Saturday?
Goalkeeping may be the determining factor.
Alisson has been outstanding throughout his career and has provided Liverpool a new spark of momentum to build around. But the Brazilian GK has been forced to repel 6 shots on target thus far in 3 fixtures. Can the Foxes provide more of a challenge?
Leicester certainly could hurt Liverpool with their counterattack and upset an eager team looking to boost its strong goal total. McGuire is versatile and can contribute from anywhere on the field, and Vardy is a fabulous striker when given space to operate.
But I’m not expecting a display of firepower from the Foxes. They would be thrilled to hold the ball more than 40% in the fixture with Liverpool. A lot rides on Schmeichel’s ability to ward off the eventual onslaught of well-placed shots.
The goalie’s resume is not one to joke about despite his name bearing a resemblance to a song lyric from Laverne and Shirley. In the 2018 World Cup, Schmeichel recorded a shutout for Denmark in a fixture against Peru which earned him a record-breaking 533 minutes of FIFA action without allowing a single tally.
Leicester’s Cinderella run to an EPL title is still well within memory, and the club retains dynamic defenders such as Ricardo Pereira. Pereira has been utilized farther-forward in manager Claude Puel’s formation to take advantage of his versatile repertoire. That likely will not be the case on Saturday as he will likely be used in a more conservative manner against the mighty Reds.
Leicester could out-play Liverpool at certain moments and shock a rowdy group of diehard fans. The quickness and cohesiveness of the Foxes’ midfield and backline could stifle Salah, and Reds’ backliner Virgil van Dijk could potentially be powerless to block some of Leicester’s brave long blasts.
Whether or not those strikes can get by Alisson? That’s another question Even though I may thoroughly regret it if the home team is victorious in regulation and stoppage time and the 6-to-1 payoff is missed, I have a good feeling about the underdog in an alternate market…the goal spread.
My recommended wager is Leicester City (+1) against the spread.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.