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Liverpool v Leicester promises goals in thriller of the weekend

Liverpool v Leicester promises goals while Jose Mourinho could triumph over Pep Guardiola and Man Utd will toil against defensive West Brom.

Every week we preview three fascinating things to look out for in the big Premier League games, with further analysis from Betfair’s Football…Only Bettor podcast. And we’re back from the international break with a bang. Liverpool v Leicester could be a classic.

Is the balance of power in Mourinho-v-Guardiola about to shift?

One of the greatest rivalries of the 21st century has fallen flat over the last few years as Jose Mourinho’s tactics lost their relevance, but he is enjoying a mini-resurgence this season thanks to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic.

All of a sudden his conservatism and risk-averse defensive structure seems well-suited to controlling the chaos of Covid football, while the high pressing and high defensive lines that have dominated the last few years look too demanding for the congested fixture list. Mourinho is on the rise as Pep Guardiola, overseeing some alarmingly passive Man City performances this season, falls, and so Saturday’s game could be a symbolic moment in this unexpected shift of power.

It would be an incredible twist in the Mourinho-Guardiola rivalry, signalling a tactical regression in the Premier League just at the point when it looked as though the Catalan had won the argument.

Certainly the hosts appear to hold the upper hand. City are struggling to create clear-cut chances, largely because opponents have increasingly discovered that sitting off the centre-backs in a patient mid-block, cutting off the passing lanes through midfield, significantly weakens Guardiola’s side. That’s the defensive set-up Mourinho has installed successfully this season, and we can anticipate Spurs’ front three blocking the route through to Kevin de Bruyne.

At the other end, the Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min partnership should do damage against City’s high line, with Kyle Walker regularly caught out on the break in 2020/21. There is a clear template for Mourinho’s team to follow, and with the form guide also in Tottenham’s favour this…

Mark Holmes

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