Fading Liverpool face tricky trip to Leicester
By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER - Liverpool may be tempted to try a new defensive pairing as their fading hopes of retaining their Premier League title face another test on Saturday when the champions travel to third-placed Leicester City.
Juergen Klopp's side have lost their last three home games with defeats to Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and last Sunday's 4-1 loss to Manchester City, leaving them in fourth place, 10 points behind leaders City, who host Tottenham Hotspur.
Yet their recent form has been better away from Anfield with January's wins at West Ham United and Tottenham ensuring the Reds are at least still in the top four.
Klopp may be tempted to move away from his emergency central defensive pairing of midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who have been deputising for the injured Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
The German signed two defenders late in the January transfer window with Ben Davies joining from Championship club Preston North End and Ozan Kabak arriving from Bundesliga side Schalke 04. While Liverpool's air of invincibility has been lost, Leicester have not been in the best of form either -- they have managed just one win in their last four league games.
In contrast, Pep Guardiola's City have won 15 straight games in all competitions heading into Saturday's clash with Jose Mourinho's Spurs.
While City cruised past Championship club Swansea City in the FA Cup on Wednesday with a 3-1 win, Spurs were knocked out after a 5-4 extra-time defeat in a thriller against Everton.
City have a five-point lead and a game in hand over second-placed Manchester United but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will expect his side to keep up the chase with a win at next to bottom West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Arsenal, in 11th place, face a Leeds United team who are one point and one place above them.
The Yorkshire side have won three of their last four and have won more points away from home while Arsenal's improvement in form was halted by back-to-back defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa.