Adrian Clarke picks out key battles between players and teams going head-to-head in Matchweek 36.
Relegation-threatened Leicester City host a top-four-chasing Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in what feels like a must-win match for both clubs.
Concerned Foxes fans will pin their hopes on a stellar performance from talisman James Maddison.
The midfielder has been Leicester’s standout performer, scoring 10 goals and making nine assists this season.
He has assisted in their last three matches too, but frustratingly has now gone 11 Premier League matches without scoring a goal in open play.
Leicester’s No 10 has provided four goals for the winger Barnes, who has scored 12 this season. Together they have enough skill to cause Liverpool problems.
No other club in the bottom half of the table boast two players who have produced as many direct goal involvements as Maddison and Barnes.
22/23 goals/assists from bottom-half teams
Liverpool’s defensive midfielder Fabinho will be asked to contain Maddison.
The Brazilian struggled for form earlier this season but has improved his levels in and out of possession in recent weeks.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new hybrid role, where he joins Fabinho in midfield, does seem to have eased the pressure on the 29-year-old.
Fabinho’s distribution has simplified since that tactical change was made.
Across the last six matches, all Liverpool victories, Fabinho has played only 3.9 per cent of his passes long. Before, he was averaging 8.2 per cent.
Knitting moves together with minimal fuss, he has been more effective.
How Fabinho's game changed
|Passes||Long passes||Long pass %|
|First 27 apps||1,241||102||8.2%|
|Last 6 apps||409||16||3.9%|
Fabinho’s duel with Maddison will be of paramount importance, especially in the way he screens service into Leicester’s forwards.
If he stifles the playmaker, it would lay an easier platform for Liverpool to go on and claim the points. The individual who dominates this head-to-head should end up on the winning side.