Emile Heskey backs Leicester to challenge Liverpool for Premier League title

Emile Heskey believes Leicester are genuine Premier League title contenders and backed them to threaten Liverpool’s crown.

The former England international’s former clubs meet at Anfield on Sunday in the latest test of the Foxes’ credentials.

Leicester have won six straight games in all competitions – having also beaten Manchester City 5-2 in September – after bouncing back from last season’s final-day disappointment of missing out on the top four.

Leicester have made a flying start to the Premier League season
Leicester have made a flying start to the Premier League season (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Liverpool’s title defence has them a point behind the Foxes, top of the Premier League heading into the weekend, and Heskey expects Brendan Rodgers’ side to last the course.

“They are true title contenders and I don’t really see them falling away too much, unlike last season,” the former striker told the PA news agency.

“Brendan will understand why they fell away last season and how to rectify it.

Emile Heskey had a successful spell at Leicester
Emile Heskey had a successful spell at Leicester (Rebecca Naden/PA)

“They dropped out of the top four then so they would love to stay in there and that’s going to be their aim. They’re in a better place than last year. Even the manager is in a better place to understand the players in the long term.

“Results are all over the place so it’s difficult to say who is going to challenge. I still think Manchester City but Leicester have got the best chance to win the league because you would have thought others, like Arsenal and Manchester United, would be challenging.”

Heskey moved to Anfield from Leicester in 2000 for £11million and scored 60 goals in 228 games for the Reds.

Emile Heskey made the move from Leicester to Liverpool
Emile Heskey made the move from Leicester to Liverpool (Phil Noble/PA)

The 42-year-old won two League Cups, the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in four years at Anfield.

He has been impressed with Diogo Jota’s impact following his £45million switch from Wolves in September but believes Reds striker Roberto Firmino should not be written off yet.

Jota has scored seven times already – including a Champions League hat-trick at Atalanta – while Firmino has netted just once in 12 appearances.

Diogo Jota has quickly got up to speed at Liverpool
Diogo Jota has quickly got up to speed at Liverpool (Peter Powell/PA)

“I played with a lot of the lads from the national team so I was lucky but it’s energising (joining Liverpool),” said Heskey, who scored 46 goals for Leicester after starting his career at Filbert Street.

“You are with some of the best players in the world and it can only make you better. He’s been excellent, he’ll be being pushed and pushed differently.

“But Firmino is still key, he’s an integral part of how they play. He’s a fantastic player, he may not be all about goals but it’s about movement, trickery, guile, playing balls in. We’ve seen it all.

“I’ve said it about Michael (Owen) as well. He’d be playing injured but just having Michael there gave others a boost as well because they know they have the talented man on the pitch.”

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