Christian Fuchs

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Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

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  • Leicester City has won 2 straight home PL games vs Liverpool
  • Jamie Vardy has 5 goals in 3 PL games vs Liverpool
  • Liverpool leads the PL with 40 shots on target this season

Jamie Vardy is good to go for the Foxes as they welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC or live online via NBCSports.com).

These two teams matched up midweek in League Cup play, with Leicester City winning 2-0, and they did so without Vardy who missed out with a groin strain. He’s since recovered, and will likely play a part. Christian Fuchs and Leonardo Ulloa are also ready to go, with Fuchs back after an eye injury in training, while Ulloa took a knock to the head midweek but is ready to go.

The Foxes need a win in the worst way, as a loss would leave them with their joint-worst point total through the first six matches of a top flight season since 1994/95, the year they were relegated.

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Liverpool, meanwhile, has issues of its own to sort out. They are winless in all competitions since August 27th, and on a larger scale, Jurgen Klopp is taking heat for having less points than Brendan Rodgers did through his first 73 league games of his Liverpool tenure.

The Reds are also facing a bit of injury trouble, with Dejan Lovren still out with back problems, while Joel Matip and Emre Can both suffered slight injuries in the midweek loss and are questionable for Saturday. Should all those miss out, the already leaky defense would prove even more porous.

What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool chasing the ball: “We come too close together in the situation where the first ball is going after a throw-in and it means for the second ball we don’t have a good formation. We need to get more natural in these things because it’s not that difficult to be honest but it happens too often. Now we have to work and then it will be even more difficult to create something against us.”

Craig Shakespeare on Jamie Vardy vs. Liverpool: “Is he a bogeyman? I am hoping so. Sometimes strikers will have good memories of playing against certain teams. Centre forwards go through these purple patches and everybody would like one who can get you 20 goals a season.”

Prediction

If anything is certain in a Liverpool match, it’s that the first goal doesn’t matter. Since the start of last season, the Reds are tops in the league with 20 points from losing positions. However, they’re also fifth in the league in that same timeframe with 20 points lost from winning positions. With that in mind, a wild game is likely in store, but with the inconsistent form for either side of late, it’s tough to pick a winner. A 2-2 draw is a likely result.

Three things learned from Arsenal’s amazing win vs. Leicester

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LONDON — For most of the opening 83 minutes it looked like Arsenal would start up the season with their now customary demoralizing defeat.

Leicester City rolled into the Emirates Stadium on Friday night and led the Gunners 3-2 with seven minutes left for what looked like a shock win. Hold your horses.

Two goals from subs Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud in two minutes late on saw Arsenal go 4-3 up as they started off the Premier League season in incredible, breathtaking fashion.

A classic PL encounter saw Arsenal lead 1-0 after 94 seconds. Then Leicester went 2-1 up. Then Arsenal pulled it back to 2-2. Then Leicester went 3-2 up and then Arsenal’s late two-goal show saw them take all three points.

Here’s what we learned from a pulsating encounter in north London to open up the new PL campaign.


ARSENAL’S INCREDIBLE SPIRIT RESURFACES

This Arsenal side has a true never say die attitude. Numerous times at the back end of last season they found winners late on. They did it again to win the FA Cup in May. And they outlasted Chelsea to win on penalty kicks last weekend at Wembley.

Even though they showcased most of their flaws on Friday, you can’t fault the spirit of Arsene Wenger‘s men.

Given their poor opening day record (one win in seven before Friday) we should’ve expected another opening day collapse but given their fine preseason form and an impressive display against Chelsea to win the Community Shield last weekend at Wembley, this inept display against Leicester City was hard to believe. Yet somehow they still grabbed all three points to keep the feel-good factor intact. For now.

Petr Cech was shaky on Leicester’s first and second goals. Young center back Rob Holding (he was subbed out in the second half) was targeted by Christian Fuchs and Marc Albrighton with Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin giving him no protection. Central midfielders Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka were nervous on the ball and slack in possession to gift Leicester the ball in dangerous positions time and time again. Slack zonal marking allowed Jamie Vardy to make it 3-2.

Wenger was left shaking his head on the sidelines for much of the opening 67 minutes of this game with Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud brought on to try and rescue a point. Somehow they got more than that.

Those subs forced a desperate defensive reshuffle which saw a winger (Oxlade-Chamberlain) at right back, two left backs (Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac) at center back and a right back (Bellerin) at left back, and some of the reasons for this disjointed display were due to Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker all being unavailable. That’s acceptable but perhaps proved that Arsenal’s second-string defenders may not be as good as we thought.

Following his new two-year contract the pressure had eased on Wenger over the summer after improved displays in April and May with a 3-4-3 system, an FA Cup victory to end last season and the signing of Alexandre Lacazette.

Wenger will get plenty of the plaudits once again for a dramatic opening night win which saw his two subs work perfectly.

Still, with no end in sight to the Ozil and Alexis Sanchez contract saga, how long will it be before a shock defeat, which this easily could have been, will force the “Wenger Out” banners to appear once again?


SLIGHT HOPE FOR LEICESTER

There were glimpses that this season will be about much more than just settling for midtable obscurity for Leicester.

The way they ruthlessly pounced on Arsenal mistakes was highlighted by their second via a Albrighton cross for Vardy to tap home at the back post. Vintage Leicester.

They sat back, forced Arsenal into making mistakes and had Vardy’s pace on the break to hurt the Gunners. Yes, they looked shaky at times in defense with Lacazette and Welbeck combining well in and around the box, but most teams struggle with that against Arsenal.

There is no excusing the way Craig Shakespeare‘s men collapsed late in the game to have victory snatched away from them as they left north London empty handed. Yet there is hope they can play like this against most teams in the PL and win games.

Still, not the ideal start for Shakespeare as a manager who has spent plenty of cash ahead of first full season in charge in the Premier League.


LACAZETTE THE BRIGHT SPOT

It took Lacazette just 94 seconds to score in the Premier League with his second touch in England’s top-flight. The first was a kick off.

The 26-year-old Frenchman averaged a goal every 80 minutes during his Ligue 1 career with Lyon and he’s started in fine style.

Lacazette’s goalscoring ability is one thing, but his ability to link up with Arsenal’s other attackers inside the box is an added bonus. You do not get that from most poachers.

He is a menace in the box and was involved in both Welbeck’s goal to make it 2-2 and his incredible trickery and powerful shot forced Kasper Schmeichel into a fine stop which led to the corner for Giroud to score the winner.

For most of his career Lacazette is a man who has been in the right place at the right time and it seems he will carry on that trend at Arsenal.

 

Leicester beat West Brom on PKs in PL Asia Trophy opener (Video)

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Leicester City prevailed 7-6 on penalty kicks against West Bromwich Albion in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Stream PL Asia Trophy here ]  

The Foxes and Baggies opened up the Premier League Asia Trophy with Jay Rodriguez and Riyad Mahrez both scoring stunners in the first half of the semifinal.

A winner could not be found in normal time so it went to penalty kicks and the new “ABBA” system was trialed for the first time in a game involving Premier League teams.

Leicester prevailed and will now face one of Liverpool or Crystal Palace in the final on Saturday, while West Brom will take on the loser of that game in a third-place match, also on Saturday.

The Baggies got off to a flying start as Rodriguez, who earlier had a good chance from Matty Phillips’ cross, got a yard of space and smashed home a shot from 25-yards out. A fine strike for West Brom’s new striker who joined from Southampton earlier this summer. 1-0 to the Baggies.

Leicester improved after going behind and Mahrez looked lively throughout the first half. It was the Algerian international who leveled things up for the Foxes as he pounced on a loose pass, ran towards goal and finished clinically into the far corner. 1-1.

The game was an even encounter for the rest of the match with plenty of substitutes made and one of those, Christian Fuchs, delivering some dangerous ball from the left.

James McClean saw a smart turn and shot fly just wide as West Brom pushed to go ahead, while at the other Jamie Vardy flashed an effort wide after racing clear from a long ball over the top.

As the second half wore on chances were few and far between and the game went to penalty kicks.

The new system was trialed and the first 12 penalty kicks were scored but then Sam Field had his PK stopped by Ben Hamer, then Marc Albrighton stepped up to send Leicester into Saturday’s final in Hong Kong.

Leicester City 3-0 Watford: Foxes keep moving on up

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  • Leicester goes ninth
  • Vardy lively
  • Ndidi rewarded with goal
  • Watford drops 15th

Leicester City is within a win of eighth place after a thorough beatdown of Watford at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Wilfried Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton scored in a 3-0 win for the Foxes, who now have 43 points after spending so much of the season in the drop zone. Leicester is two points back of West Brom.

Watford drops a spot, their 40 points now eight points clear of Swansea.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford found some moments of promise after the first 10 minutes, and Tom Cleverley wasted a good chance from 18 yards.

Leicester rang the bell at the other end five minutes later, as Adrian Mariappa acted quick to stop a free kick play from reaching Shinji Okazaki. The ball rang off the post, and Watford was safe.

Ndidi changed Leicester City’s season in the long-term, and finally gave the Foxes their deserved lead in the short-term when he pounced on a missed Watford touch about 8 yards from goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Heurelho Gomes went horizontal to make a slapping stop on Vardy as the second half began and Leicester’s tails remained up.

And Mahrez beat Mariappa on the left of the 18 before nutmegging Gomes for a 2-0 Leicester lead.

The Foxes had a chance to eliminate all visiting hope with a near dead center free kick from 25 yards out, but Christian Fuchs‘ 72nd minute left-footed effort curled over the bar.

Albrighton added the final marker in stoppage time on a pretty classic Leicester counter attack. Vardy sucked Watford’s entire defense left, and Albrighton raced to the back post for a wide-open finish.

UCL at half: Atleti doubles aggregate lead, Real-Bayern level at break

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Chances were far and few over the first 45 minutes in England but Leicester is in a world of trouble, while Bayern Munich controlled much of the possession in Madrid but has nothing to show just yet.

Leicester trails Atletico Madrid on aggregate 2-0 (1-0 at halftime) after Saul Niguez headed home in the 26th minute from Felipe Luiz’s cross from the left wing.

Shinji Okazaki‘s header on target in the seventh minute has been the best opportunity for the Foxes to break the deadlock through the first stanza after the attacker latched onto a Christian Fuchs cross.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are locked in a scoreless draw at the Santiago Bernabeu, although Los Blancos still hold a 2-1 advantage on aggregate.

Bayern had several quality chances to get on the board early in the first half, but the best opportunity for either side came in the 27th minute when Sergio Ramos’ cross-range shot was blocked off the line by a Bayern defender.

Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben each had strong chances to put Bayern ahead in the eighth and ninth minutes, respectively, but the German side couldn’t find their finishing touch.