Kabak makes Liverpool debut and Vardy returns to Leicester starting XI | fpl.wiki

Ozan Kabak (£5.0m) is the latest man to partner auxiliary centre-half Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

With Fabinho (£5.4m) ruled for the Reds with a muscle injury, the German’s hand was forced into another backline shuffle.

Ben Davies (£5.0m), also brought in as centre-back cover, is not part of the Liverpool matchday 18. Nat Phillips (£4.0m) is on the bench after deputising in Gameweek 22.

Along with Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara (£5.6m) is the other player to drop out of Klopp’s XI from the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in Gameweek 23. Curtis Jones (£4.4m) is the man drafted into the midfield three.

Otherwise things are as we might expect for the champions. Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) Sadio Mane (£11.9m) Roberto Firmino (£9.3m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) Andy Robertson (£7.3m) and Alisson (£5.9m) all start. Ahead of kick off, Alexander-Arnold told BT Sport:

It’s huge for us, coming here is always difficult. We’ve had a week to work on things, it’s chop and change at the back at the moment but we have to get used to that.

We are prepared for a few systems that Leicester may use and we think we can hurt them.

In embargoed quotes on Friday night, Klopp said of Kabak and Davies:

Yeah, [Kabak is a] calm person. So, both Ben [Davies] and Ozan are calm people, willing to learn, great attitude. They really throw themselves in everything that is ahead of them – what a defender should do. Making big steps, adapting to the way we play, that’s important.

We have still a clear way to defend, which is important, because if both of them would be on the pitch, then there are still nine players who are used to what we did before – so if the two players would do something differently that would lead to a strange situation.

It’s all good so far. Now we have to make decisions. We have to change again because of Fab and now we will see which solution we will take.

Leicester could be using a back four or a wing-back system at the King Power stadium, with Brendan Rodgers coy in his pre-match interview.

“A six-pointer? No, there’s still a long way to go but it’s a fantastic game, one we are looking forward to against the champions. It’s a big blow for us with James Justin being out because he has been amazing.

“We have the flexibility to play a few systems, that’s been pleasing with the versatility of the team. The team is fresh, we rested plenty in midweek.” – Brendan Rodgers

Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) returns to the Leicester league XI for the first time since Double Gameweek 19. The forward did log 29 minutes as a sub in GW23 and started the midweek FA Cup win against Brighton.

James Maddison (£7.4m) and Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) could flank Vardy in a 3-4-3 set up, while Wilfred Ndidi (£4.8m) also makes his injury return to start in midfield.

Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) looks set to operate at either left-back or left wing-back, with £3.9m defender Daniel Amartey playing on the right-hand side of Rodgers’ defence.

Unfortunately, the aformentioned James Justin will be out for a lengthy period after an ACL injury in that FA Cup this tie. Rodgers explained in his pre-match press conference on Friday:

Sadly, for JJ, the scan hasn’t shown up so well, which is a massive blow for us. He looks like he’s done his ACL, which is a devastating blow for us because he’s been incredible since he came into the team last year.

He’s played in many positions. Wherever I’ve asked him to play, whatever position, he’s been a minimum eight out of 10 and developing as a top Premier League player.

He’ll more than likely have the operation very soon and then get back on his recovery and then now we’re all fighting for him between now and the end of the season.

Asked if there is a timeframe on the full-back’s return, Rodgers added:

I don’t want to put any time on that. These are injuries, if you look at Ricardo [Pereira]’s timeframe, it’s probably going to be shorter or around that same time. As I said, we’re getting full consultation with the specialists on it. We’re taking every opinion that we possibly can on it, and then we’ll take it from there.

Leicester XI (4-1-4-1 or 3-4-3): Schmeichel; R Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Amartey; Ndidi; Barnes, Maddison, Tielemans, Albrighton; Vardy.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Henderson, Kabak, Alexander-Arnold; Jones, Wijnaldum, Milner; Mane, Firmino, Salah.

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