This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Liverpool will face a high-flying Leicester side on Saturday with the Foxes’ English stars bang in form, but Ricardo Pereira is a major threat who the Reds must keep in check.
When you think of Leicester’s danger men under Brendan Rodgers, you think of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.
The former has scored five league goals already this campaign and has Sadio Mane gushing over his quality, while the latter has one goal and two assists in top-flight action, averaging a superb Whoscored rating of 7.42.
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That said, the Foxes’ last two fixtures have seen a new threat emerge, as Pereira has found the back of the next in each of his last two games.
The Portugal international has enjoyed a fantastic start to the campaign under Rodgers, so good in fact that it may actually alter the way Mane plays on Saturday.
Indeed, not only is Pereira fulfilling his defensive duties with a whopping 4.7 tackles per game, he is proving to be quite the attacking outlet for his side, racking up over 60 passes per game.
He is completing those passes at a rate of 80%, making 0.7 chances per game, but even more impressively is terrifying his opposite number with 2.1 dribbles per game.
To put that into perspective, Andy Robertson completes 1.3 dribbles each match, while Trent Alexander-Arnold musters a measly 0.3. Even Mane himself doesn’t top Pereira with just 1.3 dribbles per Premier League outing this season.
The 25 year-old loves romping forward and pinning his opposing winger and full-back into their own half, and his battle with Liverpool’s left flank could well decide the game.
If Pereira uses his nearly 5 tackles per game to halt Mane and his excellent bursting runs forward to get in behind the constantly overlapping Robertson, the Foxes could well be the first side in England to take something off the Reds this season.
It is something Jurgen Klopp will have to consider, and it may even force a slightly more cautious approach from the usually unstoppable duo of Robertson and Mane.