Matty James

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Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Leicester City

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  • PL leaders Liverpool host 3rd-place Leicester
  • Rodgers makes managerial return to Anfield
  • Reds can go 8 points clear of Man City (for a day) with a win

The clash of Matchweek 8 will see Premier League leaders Liverpool host Leicester City, the two-month-old season’s surprise performers, at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

The Reds haven’t so much as dropped a point this season and have only trailed one opponent, 19th-place Newcastle United for a grand total of 21 minutes. Jurgen Klopp‘s side has won 16 straight PL games dating back to last season and has conceded just five goals in seven games this term. The Reds were far from their best, at least defensively, when they beat Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday. After going 3-0 up in 36 minutes, Klopp’s men gave all three goals back in a 21-minute period before Mohamed Salah grabbed a late winner. Back in England, though, Liverpool are yet to conceded multiple goals in a PL game this season.

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On the other side, Leicester have the look a side set to challenge for a top-four place all season. After suffering their only loss, to Manchester United, three weeks ago, the Foxes have responded with a 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur and a 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United. Brendan Rodgers is set to return to Anfield as the opposing manager for the first time since departing as Liverpool boss in 2015. Rodgers knows all too well the enormity of the task ahead of Klopp — chasing Liverpool’s first-ever Premier League-era title and the club’s first top-division title since 1990 — after coming oh so close in the 2013-14 season.

Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT – Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Joel Matip (knock), Alisson (calf)

Leicester: OUT – Matty James (achilles); RETURNING – James Maddison (ankle)


Projected lineups

Liverpool: Adrian – Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum – Salah, Firmino, Mane

Leicester: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell – Ndidi, Perez, Praet, Tielemans, Barnes – Vardy


What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp, on the near-disaster against Salzburg: “How do I explain that? I think it was obvious: we left the very successful path of the first 30 minutes. That was some of the best football we played so far, against how we all saw a little bit later a very well organized team with a clear idea and identity. We did everything they don’t like, on a high speed, scored the three goals, could have scored more. They changed the system – that’s allowed and is not really a problem usually, but tonight it was for us because we changed the approach a little bit for some reason.”

Brendan Rodgers, on returning to Anfield: “I’m really looking forward to going back. I had the real privilege of managing there. So much learning took place for me at Liverpool. I always take the positives when I analyze my time there. The first couple of seasons went well and we went close to the title. The third year was more difficult but there was great learning for me as a coach. The fourth season didn’t last so long. There were so many highs as a young manager and I’ll always be grateful for that.”


Prediction

Leicester will give Liverpool everything they can handle, and more, but the Anfield effect will certainly be felt when the Reds are forced to dig deep in the final 30 minutes. In the end, Liverpool will have too much possession and force the Foxes to work a little too hard just to stay in it. Liverpool 2-1 Leicester.

Premier League preview: Leicester City v. Newcastle

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  • Leicester City five points behind second-place Man City
  • Newcastle United 19th through six games
  • Leicester have lost their last two home games against Newcastle

In Sunday’s lone match, Leicester City have the clear-cut opportunity to move behind Liverpool and Manchester City, but Newcastle United will look to make things difficult for the home side when they face-off at 11:30 a.m ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

It’s late September, and there’s no way around it: Brendan Rodgers has done well for the Foxes so far this season. In six games, Leicester have gathered three wins, drawn twice and lost once – to Manchester United at Old Trafford in a game that could have gone either way. In other words, in position to move into the top three with a win on Sunday.

From the looks of it, Jamie Vardy has held on to the Midas touch, and the departure of Harry Maguire is a thing of the past thanks to the emergence of 23-year-old Çağlar Söyüncü. James Maddison, who took a hit to the ankle against Tottenham is doubtful, but all things point to Rodgers having a near-healthy squad to choose from.

As far as things go for Newcastle, their situation is polar opposite. The Magpies have won only a game – a 1-0 victory over Tottenham – this season under Steve Bruce. And to no surprise, as the weeks go by, the pile continues to pile on the 58-year-old manager.

The serious hamstring injury Jonjo Shelvey suffered does Bruce and company zero favors; although, there is a break in the clouds for Newcastle as USMNT fullback DeAndre Yedlin is expected to be back on the bench after months of inactivity. Still, there is lots of work to be done for Bruce, who can really buy himself time with any positive result.

Injuries/suspensions

Leicester City: OUT – Daniel Amartey (ankle), Matty James (calf); QUESTIONABLE –  James Maddison (ankle)

Newcastle United: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring), Florian Lejeuene (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), DeAndre Yedlin (groin)


Projected lineups

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Chillwell, Söyüncü, Evans, Pereira; Maddison, Tielemans, Ndidi; Barnes, Vardy, Perez.

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Dummett, Lascelles, Schär; Willems, Longstaff, Hayden, Manquillo; Almiron, Joelinton, Atsu


What they’re saying

Leicester City manager Rodgers on facing Newcastle: “For us, we expect a very tough game,” he added. “They set up well, defend low, set deep and we have to be at our best to get the result.”

Newcastle United manager Bruce on their counterparts: “They’re a good side, and they’ve evolved into a very, very good side over the years. We know if we’re going to get something we’ll have to be at our best. We certainly have to be better in terms of goals – we understand that – and let’s hope that we can be with the players we’ve got coming back.”


Prediction

Newcastle performed well in Leicester under Rafa Benitez. He is no longer around, and the Magpies’ fortunes have turned upside down under Bruce. The visitors’ dire state and Leicester’s recent fine form put Newcastle’s chances bleak at best. Leicester City, 3-0.

Premier League Preview: Man United v. Leicester City

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  • Harry Maguire left Leicester for Man United, for $97 million
  • Leicester 3rd in PL heading into Matchweek 5
  • Man United, riding three-game winless skid, sit 8th

Harry Maguire’s new club, Manchester United, is set to host Maguire’s old club, Leicester City, when the Foxes visit the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold). Maguire moved from Leicester to Man United for a world-record fee (for a defender), after a protracted transfer saga that played out for much of the summer, but it’s Leicester currently enjoying a hot start to their Premier League campaign and occupying a top-three spot.

Meanwhile, United have struggled out of the gates and and sit eighth in the PL table. After thrashing Chelsea on the opening day of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side took just two points from its next three games, including a loss to Crystal Palace. It’s that recent run of results which adds a significant amount of pressure to Saturday’s clash. The top story of United’s still-young season is missed penalty kicks: Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have each failed to convert from the spot this season, leaving everyone, Solskjaer included, unsure of who’ll step up to take United’s next one.

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On the other side, Jamie Vardy is off to a flying start with three goals in four games, including a brace in Leicester’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth just before the international break. Leicester’s greatest strength lies just behind Vardy, though, as Brendan Rodgers has gotten star performances out of each of James Maddison (two assists) and Youri Tielemans (one goal, one assist). The Englishman and Belgian, respectively, have produced free-flowing passages of play with shocking regularity. The duo represents the Foxes’ best chance at breaking back into the top-six — or, dare anyone say it this early in the season, the top-four.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Paul Pogba (ankle), Anthony Martial (thigh), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back); PROBABLE – Diogo Dalot (hip)

Leicester: OUT – Matty James (achilles); QUESTIONABLE – Daniel Amartey (ankle)


Projected lineups

Man United: De Gea – Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young – Matic, McTominay, Mata – James, Rashford, Lingard

Leicester: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell – Ndidi, Maddison, Tielemans, Albrighton, Barnes – Vardy


What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on Maguire’s arrival: “I’m sure he’s looking forward to playing against his old team, but now he’s here, he’s going to be a big part of the future of this club. That’s why we spent the money we did on him. … I think he’s been brilliant [since signing]. I think he’s come into the dressing room and been a leader. He’s also obviously a leader on the pitch, you can see that. He is definitely a character and a personality that can be a captain of a big club, yeah, and he’s a leader in the dressing room – by performances, presence, stature and behavior.”

Brendan Rodgers, on Maguire’s departure: “I text him now and then and wish him the best when he plays with England. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. His behavior typified him as a man. It was so difficult for him and right the way through, his behavior was exemplary. He’s a good guy and you can see he’s made them better.”


Prediction

United’s home dominance — or, lack thereof — is perhaps the greatest difference between the Sir Alex Ferguson era and every iteration of United since his retirement in 2013. No one is afraid to go to Old Trafford anymore. United went 10W-6D-3L in league games at Old Trafford last season. In Ferguson’s final season, they went 16W-0D-3L en route to the PL title. Leicester are one of the few sides without a win at Old Trafford in that period. Saturday represents a golden opportunity with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial ruled out through injuries. Leicester get their win, 1-0.

Preview: Man City v. Leicester City

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  • Man City going for 13th-straight win
  • Leicester have 1 defeat in last 7
  • Man City 2 points behind leaders Liverpool

Manchester City’s season pretty much comes to down to this game. Pep Guardiola‘s side host Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and a win would see them take a one-point lead at the top of the table heading into the final day of the Premier League season.

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Leicester have been in great form under new manager Brendan Rodgers and the former Liverpool boss could do his side a huge favor ahead of the season finale on Sunday, while the Foxes are also trying to seal an unlikely seventh-place finish. With City heading to Brighton on the final day and Liverpool hosting Wolves, Leicester taking points off Man City seems like Liverpool’s best remaining hope of winning the title.

In team news Man City are without Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne, while Leicester are without Daniel Amartey and Matty James.


What they’re saying…

Pep Guardiola on the title battle with Liverpool: “Arriving at this stage, two games left with 92 points, after 100 points last season, that is the most satisfaction I’ve had as a manager. It’s not easy, honestly, and the players did it again. I would not say that 100 points was bad and that we are not satisfied with what we did last season but, at the same time, we were seven points behind (earlier this season). You give credit for the titles and how huge our rival is. In my career as a manager, I played against incredible sides and there are two that were ‘wow’. One is the Barcelona of Luis Enrique with Neymar, (Lionel) Messi and (Luis) Suarez in front. The other is this Liverpool. I think they’re the best two sides I’ve faced as a manager.”

Brendan Rodgers on red-hot Jamie Vardy: “Well he does (strike fear into opponents) there’s no getting away from that. When I was preparing a team to play against him you just knew you’ve got to be really careful against him, because if you don’t counter-press the game well and there’s space to play that pass, he’s going to hurt you. And he’s a goalscorer. If you watch him and see his ability to score a goal, and his threat, you’ll always be mindful of it. But that’s the Premier League − top players, top strikers − and you’re always having to find a way to nullify that. But it’s absolutely brilliant to have him on your side!”


Prediction

Leicester will make this very tough for Man City, and their threat on the counter will scare the life out of Guardiola. That said, City have been grinding out results in recent weeks and with this squad knowing two more wins seals the title, there will be an extra bit of determination. Man City to win 3-1 thanks to a late flurry of goals.

Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City: Foxes fight back

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  • Butland own goal rescues point for Leicester
  • Shaqiri’s third goal in three games have Stoke lead
  • Potters remain in bottom three

Leicester City fought back to draw 1-1 with Stoke City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with an own goal from Jack Butland in the second half canceling out Xherdan Shaqiri‘s opener.

Stoke took the lead just before half time with a beauty from Shaqiri but after Butland misjudged a cross to knock the ball into his own net, Leicester came alive and hit the post twice late on.

With the draw Leicester momentarily move up to seventh place on 36 points, while Stoke remain in 19th place on 26 points and are without an away win since October.

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A cagey start to proceedings in the sun saw Riyad Mahrez and Badou Ndiaye both go close from distance as Leicester had plenty of corner kicks but couldn’t get behind a solid Stoke defense.

Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy launched counter attacks when they could but the Algerian was off target on a few occasions as Claude Puel‘s men toiled without much reward in the afternoon sun.

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Stoke then delivered a hammer blow just before half time as Shaqiri picked up a pass from Joe Allen, drove towards the Leicester defense and curled home his third goal in as many games to give the Potters a half time lead.

A perfect opening 45 minutes for Lambert’s side as Shaqiri had his seventh goal of the season.

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In the second half Leicester battled back into the game but Stoke almost went 2-0 up as Kasper Schmeichel‘s loose pass found Shaqiri and his long-range effort skipped just wide of an empty net.

The Foxes were then gifted a way back into the game as Albrighton’s powerful cross from the right was towards Vardy and although the English striker didn’t touch the ball, he did enough to put off Butland as the ball hit him and went into his own net to make it 1-1.

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Energized by the equalizer Leicester battered the Stoke goal as Butland saved superbly from Mahrez, then Vardy drilled an effort across goal which found Harry Maguire who hit the post with a shot.

Late on Charlie Adam‘s backward header let Mahrez race clear but a combination of Butland and Kurt Zouma kept him out and from the resulting corner Matty James hit the post with a header.