LEICESTER 1-0 LIVERPOOL: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool succumbed to defeat at the King Power stadium last night. The Reds missed a hatful of chances including a first half penalty. They were made to pay by a spirited Leicester side, with Ademola Lookman sealing the win with a second half strike. We review the game.
You can find player ratings from the match here:
° The lineup. With Thiago missing out with muscle soreness, Jürgen Klopp opted to reward Oxlade-Chamberlain’s impressive showing against the Foxes in the Carabao Cup with another start here. There were returns for Van Dijk and Fabinho too as the gaffer named as strong a side as possible.
° Penalty miss. The Reds started strong and were all over their hosts. That pressure told when Ndidi (playing out of position at CB) tripped Salah in the box to give away a penalty. Salah spurned the penalty for his first miss from the spot in the league since 2017 against Huddersfield.
It was an uncharacteristically poor effort that was easily saved by Schmeichel, but the follow up attempt should have been tucked away. Salah rushed his jump and saw his header crash off the crossbar. He had a third crack at it as he jabbed the ball away from goal with his right foot. Leicester were off the hook.
° General sloppiness. There was a general malaise about Liverpool’s play first half. Too many touches were sloppy and too many passes were going astray. Everytime this Liverpool side get a prolonged break, they seem to come back lacking any semblance of rhythm. Last night was no different.
° First half toothlessness. Aside the penalty and an instinctive strike which Schmeichel did well to palm over, the closest Liverpool came to scoring were through ambitious Henderson volleys from range. They missed several chances to create chances with poor final balls, Tsimikas being a culprit.
° First change. It was an uncharacteristically early change from Jürgen second half, with Naby Keita coming on for the insipid Oxlade-Chamberlain after just 55 minutes. It marked another false dawn from Ox. Not that Naby fared any better, mind.
The two of them have been like this for years now. Great one game, anonymous the next. It’s that level of inconsistency that sees them into the last 18 months of their deals with no talk of a new contract from the club. One wonders how long they can keep Jürgen Klopp’s trust and patience.
° That Mané miss. Four minutes before Leicester went ahead, Jota played Mané in for a simple chance one on one with Schmeichel. Sadio somehow managed to lift his shot over the crossbar when it looked easier to score. It underlined a woeful outing that sees him move on to 9 games without a goal or assist.
° Profligacy. That miss was just one of four big chances the Reds got throughout the game (according to Fotmob). That Mohamed Salah missed the other three (including the penalty) tells the story of the night. Even the irrepressible Jota looked out of sorts as the front three all chose the same night to have an off night.
° Leicester sucker punch. Their goal was coming. You could tell by the way the game was playing out they’d score on the counter. It wasn’t a surprise when Lookman capitalised on some non-existent marking to make a darting run into the box, receive a pass and slot past Alisson under no real pressure.
° The Fabinho sub. Five minutes after Leicester scored, the manager chose to take off Fabinho for James Milner. It was a strange sub at the time and I even thought it was because Fabinho had just returned from Covid isolation. The manager however explained post match, that it was because Fab is on four yellow cards.
That absolutely blew my mind because he’s not usually a man to look too far ahead. With that sub, he was prioritising the trip to Stamford Bridge over the match at hand which we happened to be losing. At 1-0 up, Leicester’s game plan was simple, sit deep, try and get an out ball and win a few cheap free kicks to waste time.
Fabinho was enjoying a solid game and had been halting counters all game. If anything, we needed him now more than ever. With Milner on in his place we lost that ball winning ability. Leicester were able to string passes together on the counter and win the free kicks they desired.
Castagne lifting the ball over Milner’s head before laying off a pass by the touchline summed that sub up. Milner is usually the man you turn to at 1-0 up to help see a game out, not at 1-0 down. That sub made us weaker and it was strange to see the manager make it.
° Last sub. With 20 minutes to go there was the last throw of the dice, with Firmino on for Henderson and a switch to a 4-2-3-1 shape. It didn’t make much of a difference, with Bobby not really getting into the game as Leicester defended even deeper and time ticking away.
° Minamino and Origi. Can we talk about how these two pick up knocks without actually playing that many games? As woeful as Mané was, he played the full game because neither of these two were available. Origi has been injured since scoring in back to back games three weeks ago.
Minamino meanwhile was out with muscle soreness after netting a late equaliser last week. How can these two be relied upon to stay fit during AFCON when they’ll be required to play more games? They can’t even manage to stay fit playing in dribs and drabs.
° Points dropped. We had the advantage last night with Leicester suffering from loads of injuries and having to play twice in two days. We were much the better side and created about four times Leicester’s xG. That we failed to find the net in a game for the very first time this season is an off day we could least afford.
° Title race. Defeat last night is a killer blow to Liverpool’s title aspirations. Manchester City are currently on a 9 match winning streak and can go 9 points clear tonight with victory over Brentford (albeit having played a game more). We just can’t afford to fritter away points in such a manner.
° Race over? Several pundits and observers called curtains on Chelsea’s title aspirations when they slipped from 3 points clear at the top to 6 points behind in third. With the Reds similarly falling six points behind City, does that also call time on their title challenge?
Andrew Beasley put it succinctly in a Twitter post last night:
“Look at it this way: if City repeat their first half of the season in the second half, Liverpool need to go W17 D2 L0 to even draw level.”
“City may drop off a bit, but it’s basically done.”
° Long way to go yet. I always thought it was premature to rule Chelsea out completely with so many games still left to play. It is ominous though, with Pep’s side in devastating mood having plundered home 17 goals in their last 3. They are more than capable of extending this long winning run.
As it stands, I believe Liverpool are out of the title race. By that I don’t mean their league season is done. I simply mean they’re out of the title picture for now. Of course they could sneak back in if they put together a long run of their own, starting from that trip to Stamford Bridge, but until then, they’re out.
° Praise for Pep. It’s testament to how good Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City has been that any dropped points feels fatal. Pre-Pep, you could lose 4/5 games and still win the title. Alex Ferguson’s treble winning United side won the league with just 79 points! That gets you 2nd (7 points behind), 3rd, 3rd, 3rd and 3rd in the last 5 seasons.
The levels required to be league champion are as high as they’ve ever been. Every single match is must win just to keep pace. It’s almost a shame that we only started consistently challenging for titles during this era. We’d have won 3/4 league titles with Klopp in the pre-Pep days.
Now though, City are odds on favourites to romp to what would be a 4th title in 5 years. If not for Klopp, that could be 5 straight league titles. It just emphasises the stranglehold they’ve put on the English game with their combination of wealth and a terrific manager.
It also highlights just how well Klopp has done to even get us up there challenging. Not so long ago we had a Liverpool manager telling us finishing 5th was “par”.
° What’s next? A trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday where our title charge could either receive the final nail in the coffin or a shot in the arm. Straight after that comes the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi finals at Arsenal. With how tough it is to win the league title, the Reds could do worse than make a fist of the League Cup.
3 thoughts on “LEICESTER 1-0 LIVERPOOL: MATCH REVIEW”
It’s painful actually.
I think Klopp Knew something bad was going to happen and he opted to save the most important piece in his midfield. Minamino and Origi’s absence got me worried,
I just have this feeling that city won’t have the best 2nd half of the season. Let’s just hover around Incase of any opportunities.
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To stay on City’s coattails we have to beat Chelsea on Sunday
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