Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey says that Jamie Vardy could look to expose Jurgen Klopp’s centre-back pairing in the Premier League this weekend.
Heskey says that Vardy could look to put pressure on the weaker player in terms of ball-playing ability in an attempt to force a mistake out of them.
The retired forward suggests that centre-back could be a weak point for Liverpool, given that a young player is set to start the match – in Nat Phillips.
Speaking to Bookmakers, Heskey offers his thoughts on where Leicester could look to expose Liverpool. “At the end of the day, as a striker you’ll always try and sniff out the weaknesses and you’ll rarely find two centre-backs together who are both comfortable on the ball.
“When you pinpoint the one who is less comfortable you try to put pressure on him and see how he copes.
“When you come up against a young lad in defence you want to see how they cope with the occasion early on. It’s not going to be quite the same as usual because without the crowd there’s less tension which could help the inexperienced players.
“It’ll be a little bit different in that sense, but make no mistake Jamie Vardy will be trying to identify weaknesses and he’ll look to exploit them.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
Phillips has started one Premier League game already this season but the game against Leicester is an entirely different proposition. He was up against Sebastien Haller in the previous game, whose play style is based more around holding the ball up and bringing his teammates into the game. This allowed Gomez and Phillips to step up onto him out of possession whilst also playing out with the ball as he rarely closed them down. Phillips ended that game with five aerial battles won and nine clearances, showing some strong defensive qualities in the match.
Vardy, on the other hand, is a constant threat in behind and will chase down opposition defenders – as Heskey says – to force mistakes from them. If Vardy sees that Phillips starts stuttering in possession when he closes him down, he might do it more aggressively and frequently to either force him into giving the ball away or sending it long to disrupt Liverpool’s build-up play. This means that Vardy’s presence could not only affect Liverpool’s chances of conceding, but scoring as well.
It is down to Phillips to show that he is not going to be bullied and that he is good enough to keep Vardy at bay for 90 minutes this weekend. Hopefully, he is able to put in a solid performance and show that he has the quality to be a regular performer for the club at Premier League level this season.