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Football News: Liverpool v Leicester City - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Leicester City - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Leicester City A Liverpool Perspective

 


Once again Liverpool faced Leicester at a time that really was not good for Liverpool with all their injuries and missing Mo Salah. Once again Liverpool made the Foxes look second rate, which they clearly are not. It must be pointed out that Leicester were fairly badly hit by injury, though they did still have most of their first choice players to choose from, only Ndidi, Soyuncu and one of Pereira or Castagne would most likely fit into the team. What it showed is that Leicester are still missing a lot of pieces from a championship-winning side, in a normal year, as they have not replaced Chilwell effectively.

It was an exceptional performance that showed that Klopp's talk of 'mentality monsters' is true. The more things go against them, the more they step up and the better they play. Lose 3-0 to Barcelona and no Salah for the second leg? No problem, even when Robertson goes off injured. This was a similar level of performance. It was dominant and demoralising for Leicester, just like last Christmas (how many of you are now hearing the Wham! song go round in their head now?!?) when a jetlagged Liverpool team destroyed the then second-placed Foxes.

It was the kind of performance that champions need to produce on a regular basis, if they are to hold onto the title. However, there is still a long way to go this season and, with yet another injury to contend with, there is only so much that can be done to patch the team. Wins like this will go a long way towards covering up for any injury problems as this was the kind of result that puts fear into future opponents. Just when there is a sight of a chink in the armour, the team goes and does this.

This is the way to go about building the kind of feeling of invulnerability that Liverpool had in the 80s, which saw them pick up their last league title until Klopp, even when the team was not really good enough to deserve it. It creates an aura that sees a number of opponents expect to lose and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when their heads drop at the slightest setback. It is just one game though and that must be remembered.

 



Leicester City

 

They just had no answer to Liverpool's pressing and their attempts to drop off and draw the defence out did create a few moments for Vardy to counter, but the pressure on the ball made most of the balls inaccurate. They were not given time and space at all, mistakes were forced out of them and that increased the pressure as they were once again trying to chase shadows.

Tactically Rodgers made a huge mistake, he left Firmino free to go where he wanted. No doubt he had been looking at the stats, which suggest Firmino is not performing and never looked any deeper to see why it was so. Every game has seen opponents try and shut him down, to work on keeping the ball away from him as much as possible and ensuring Firmino never got any time and space when he did actually get on the ball. Every game until now, that is. As usual, when given time and space Firmino's link up play lifts Liverpool and allows them to play the way they want to.

It is the same as ever with Rodgers, he just has not quite got the tactical nous when it matters. The Foxes could really do with looking at getting someone in to analyse opponents and how to neutralise them and get at them. I am not sure who is doing that for them at the moment, but it is clear that they are getting it wrong far too often. It led to them falling away last season and it could well do the same again this season if they are not careful. I am not meaning just prior to matches, but someone to be there during the game to give Rodgers help when changes are needed mid-game. Someone within his close staff that he will listen to.

There were a couple of good signs for Leicester to get comfort from, Schmeichel played well but his distribution under pressure was poor. Fofana was excellent on the ball but his defending was rash, a real show of inexperience as he constantly sold himself trying to win a ball he was never going to get to. They also did get chances to launch a counter, but made a mess of the passes under pressure.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - what can you say? Once again Klopp has dragged a performance out of a Liverpool team that made it look like it was a first-choice team firing on all cylinders. The squad is so well coached and drilled that they can just be shuffled around to suit need on the day and it all works like a well-oiled machine. 64 unbeaten at home in the league in a row tells its own story. The one thing that does need working on is corners, the delivery was poor except for two or three good balls. Considering two of the goals came from those few good corners, it would be worth trying to ensure the frequency of good deliveries increases.

 

Alisson - when called upon, he was there. His quick feet and excellent starting position made a big difference to the game. It made it that much more difficult for Leicester to put a ball in behind the defence as he condensed the space available. Made an excellent double stop at one point, though Vardy should really have been flagged offside.

 

Milner - was brilliant at right-back, playing some excellent, incisive passes and winning the battle there with Barnes. Just when you think you are getting a handle on where his best position is, Milner puts in a performance like that and you wonder if just maybe this is where he would have been best all along. When he moved into midfield, he was just as good. He must be a dream for Klopp to work with.

 

Matip - started the game looking a bit rusty and allowed himself to be dragged into midfield leaving a gap in behind a few times. In the second half, whether by instruction or he was finally waking up, he dropped off with a runner, rather than chasing into their half trying to win the ball, and saw out the danger. Though, just as I was noting it down he then went and gave away a needless corner with a mistake! I do think it is rustiness though, his passing is not quite there and nor is his touch, two parts of the game he normally excels in, I expect them to come back as he shakes off the rust with a run of games.

 

Fabinho - an excellent game, Vardy barely got in the game and that was in large part due to him. The few times Matip got drawn out of position, he was always there to cover. He has slotted in as a centre-back like he was born to play there. At times he had that imperious quality of van Dijk at his best.

 

Robertson - absolutely outstanding again. Poor Tsimikas is really going to struggle to get a run of games with Robertson in this form. His link up and partnership with Mane works so well and his delivery for Firmino's goal was a great cross. It was noticeable that in the warm up he and Milner were the two doing all the talking, they were clearly talking through what everyone needed to go and getting them fired up. He is having the season of his life.

 

Keita - started off with a weak challenge, but then grew into the game and was much better on the ball than usual, closer to the Keita we hoped for. He did play one particular nice ball down the side to Mane which completely took Fofana out of the game. Still not doing his job well off the ball though, a lazy foul after being caught out of position is not something to be lauded, though it is an improvement. In the past he would have not even bothered to commit the foul, so it is a step forward, but there is a lot of potential to get better. The big problem is that, as usual, he is unable to stay fit. In a season like this one that is a problem as there are just too many players with similar problems in the squad. Unless he starts to do more when he is fit, to earn his place, there is little point having such a financial drain at the club.

 

Wijnaldum - played the deeper role, which is not really his ideal role, but it was a case of needs must. Despite playing out of position, he stepped up and put in a very good performance. Together with Jones, in particular, he shut down the Foxes midfield and forced Leicester to look longer than they wanted. When Leicester shifted to a back four, he was forced to do a bit more defensive work, but he did it very well and gradually took back control of the midfield.

 

Jones - involved from start to finish at both ends of the pitch. Showed good movement, worked back well to help break up attacks and was generally very good on the ball. A very impressive game from him.

 

Jota - tied Fuchs up in knots and had the Austrian looking leggy by the end of the first five minutes. Some of his movement was exceptional and he linked up really well. I have never been convinced by him playing from the right in the past, but he showed he can play there and play it to a very high level. I can think of no higher compliment than that he made sure we did not miss Salah. Evans was almost constantly being dragged across to cover and Jota fully deserved his goal. Arguably the best player on the pitch and yet another goal to make it 8 in 12 games (4 in 7 in the Premier League) is making it impossible to leave him out.

 

Firmino - played really well, his press was back and he was everywhere linking up the play. It did seem like he was cursed not to score until it finally went in for him. You have to give him plaudits for his persistence, it would have been easy to just give up trying and look for the pass. Leicester will be rueing giving him so much time and space.

 

Mane - absolutely destroyed Fofana time and time again. The Leicester defender ended up making desperate lunges to try and cut off the ball, rather than just trying to deal with Mane after he got it. It was clear that Fofana knew Mane had the beating of him and was just avoiding a head-to-head with him at all costs. His link up with Robertson is particularly good.

 

N. Williams - replaced the injured (again) Keita in the 54th minute. Fine going forward but worried me when in the defensive third as he dithered on the ball and allowed Leicester to close off the options. It was clear they realised he was a weak link and targeted him for a full press. He got away with it, but he needs to be more decisive and move it forward more quickly when deep in his own half. Better to just put it in behind them and allow the team to push up, rather than dally and allow them to apply a press when back there.

 

Minamino - came on late in place of Jota. The game was petering out and, while he worked hard he was unable to make an impression in the short time he had.

 

Origi - was brought on to replace Mane in the 89th minute as half of a double-substitution along with Minamino. Barely got into the game.

Written by Tris Burke November 23 2020 13:18:45

 

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