Weblog: The football punter

Reds could be made to work hard for rewards

BT Sport 1, 8pm Tuesday

Liverpool supporters have had 11 days to recover from the thrills and spills of the 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace and may have to endure a roller-coaster ride against Leicester, who can contribute to another high-scoring Merseyside encounter.

All that matters to Reds' boss Jurgen Klopp is getting the three points and his team are likely to deliver, thanks to their outstanding attacking qualities.

But Klopp has a few defensive concerns with James Milner suspended and Virgil van Dijk (illness) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee) rated doubtful, and he will have plenty of respect for the Foxes, who play a similar counter-attacking style to Palace and often perform better against the stronger teams.

Palace's weakest link was exposed with their third-choice keeper Julian Speroni making a huge mistake for Liverpool's third goal.

Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is a far more reliable last line of defence but the Dane needs to be given more protection than has been the case in recent weeks.

Dreadful defending contributed to Leicester’s recent league defeats at home to Southampton (2-1) and away to Wolves (4-3) which have reopened the debate concerning the future of Claude Puel.

Going into this week’s Premier League fixtures Puel was the 4-7 favourite in Paddy Power’s next top-flight manager to leave his post market and the chances of a swift turnaround in results appear slim with Leicester following up the Liverpool match with fixtures at home to Manchester United and away to Tottenham.

Puel needs his players to dig deep – as they did either side of Christmas Day with a stunning 1-0 victory away to Chelsea and a 2-1 home win against Manchester City.

The way they play, with incisive counter-attacks, is tailor-made for taking on the top teams and they have a striker, Jamie Vardy, who has a history of doing damage to Liverpool.

Vardy has notched seven league goals against Liverpool – putting him third in the list of highest Premier League scorers against the Reds – behind Andy Cole (11) and Thierry Henry (eight).

But while Vardy has enjoyed personal success in the fixture, his team have struggled at Anfield, taking one point from their last seven visits.

And the Liverpool team they face this week is almost certainly the strongest Reds’ side of the Premier League era.

Klopp’s men are unbeaten in 32 Premier League home games, winning 23 times and drawing on nine occasions and, in any normal campaign, their points tally of 60 from a possible 69 would have seen them establish a commanding advantage.

Given a win percentage of 82.61 per cent in the league this season, it is understandable that the Reds are long odds-on to beat Leicester.

But there could be a few ups and downs on the night and the chances of a Leicester goal are high enough to justify a wager on Liverpool to win and both teams to score.

Liverpool to win and both teams to score

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Match in Focus

20:00 We 17Jul EURO

Tunisia v Nigeria

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • The last five meetings have ended all square.
Expert verdict
Tunisia have won only one of their six matches in 90 minutes at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations and their stubborn qualities may frustrate Nigeria in the battle for third place. The Eagles of Carthage dumped out Ghana on penalties in the last 16 and took Senegal to extra-time in the semi-finals.