The reason for Fabinho’s omission from the squad: his wife has gone into labour. “We hope to have some good news from him in a couple of hours,” Klopp reports. Best wishes to Rebeca Tavares and Fabinho.
Rodgers on Pelé. “You have seen the outpouring, the tributes. When he was last here [at Anfield] it was 2015 and I was still manager here. He always reminds me of my father, who loved Pelé, that was his idol, so when I seen [the news] my first thought was of my dad, who has obviously passed away as well. But the outpouring of emotion, the tributes by everyone, it really tells you what he was as a player, but also as a person, and his legend will live on forever, for sure.”
Klopp walks off. Coming the other way, Brendan Rodgers. The pair smile and hug warmly, then Rodgers joins Sky for his turn at some pre-match patter. “When you come to the biggest teams, you need the maximum concentration and commitment. We had been on a great run, but it was unlike us at the start of the Newcastle game, when we were two down after ten minutes. It was tough, so we need to get focused and get our concentration right from the off. We’ve gone for a midfield three that’s got legs. With the greatest intention, you have to defend for long periods here, and Wilf [Ndidi] is obviously a good defensive player. Hopefully James Maddison will be back with the group within the next week to ten days.”
… and to complete a Klopp triptych, here he is on Cody Gakpo. “We have had interest in Cody for a long time. You know our situation, and we cannot just pick players and put them on top and top and top all the time. We need to collect money a little bit before we can spend a bit, and then we can collect again. So Cody is a very interesting player. He was really well-respected and loved at PSV and we think it is the right moment to put him in. He can play in all four [forward] positions, and that’s pretty rare. He has size, physicality, can shoot from outside the box, has a good nose for finishing, is quick, a good dribbler. There are so many things to be excited about. Usually players develop quite well with us, and he is already really good.”
Klopp – who is talking to Sky Sports – moves onto tonight’s match. “Stats are not too important. We lost the last one against them, and I can feel that if I think about it. You see that Leicester had a difficult start into the season like we did, but they found a way into it. Their line-up has a lot of speed, when they play against us they kick the ball long, so we don’t know exactly, we have to be ready for everything. It’s Anfield, and it’s a long time ago we played here. We couldn’t wait and now we have to create an atmosphere.”
Jurgen Klopp on Pelé. “My dad always said that, whatever happens in the future, Pelé was the best. So that’s in my mind. I saw him only as a kid playing, but I met him once around the 2006 World Cup, and [genuine childlike excitement sparkles in his eyes] I have a signed shirt which he gave to me for my birthday, which is pretty special! So it feels really tough to be honest. Yeah. Let me say it like this: I believe in God and whichever team he’s playing now for, they have a decent player. So everything will be fine. But of course it will be a massive loss and may he rest in peace.”
Liverpool make one change to their starting XI in the wake of the 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Harvey Elliott comes in for Fabinho, who misses out altogether. Ibrahima Konate is back from his post World Cup final break and is on the bench.
Leicester make two changes to the side trounced 3-0 at home by Newcastle. Ayoze Perez makes only his second start of the season, while Wilfred Ndidi also comes in. Youri Tielemans drops to the bench, while Dennis Praet is out injured. James Maddison is also injured; Jamie Vardy starts on the bench.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Thiago, Henderson, Elliott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Nunez.
Subs: Adrian, Gomez, Konate, Keita, Tsimikas, Carvalho, Clark, Bajcetic, Doak.
Leicester City: Ward, Castagne, Amartey, Faes, Thomas, Ndidi, Soumare, Dewsbury-Hall, Perez, Barnes, Daka.
Subs: Iversen, Soyuncu, Vestergaard, Brunt, Mendy, Tielemans, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Vardy.
The teams in pretty-picture, social-media form.
Most of the signs point to a home win tonight. Liverpool have won seven of their last eight Premier League games at Anfield against Leicester City, and drawn the other one; the Foxes haven’t won at this ground since 2000, the days of Tony Cottee, Robbie Savage, Neil Lennon and Phil Gilchrist (who bundled home Muzzy Izzet’s corner to seal a 2-0 win). Liverpool have won their last three Premier League matches; Leicester are coming off the back of a 3-0 home defeat to Newcastle. Liverpool are fifth; Leicester are 13th.
But disciples of both clubs know that Leicester have a habit of making life difficult for Liverpool. They were seconds away from knocking them out of the League Cup last December. They’ve won two of the last three league meetings, with 3-1 and 1-0 victories at the King Power in 2021. They famously ended Liverpool’s 85-game unbeaten home run in 1981. Jamie Vardy has scored ten times against them, while Brendan Rodgers winning at his old stomping ground would be quite the story. So you can look at it whichever way you fancy. All we know for sure is that the game will kick off at 8pm GMT, and that it is on.