Liverpool set a new club record of 64 consecutive home league games unbeaten with a near perfect performance against fellow title contenders Leicester City.
With the impressive Foxes flying high and coming off several impressive away victories at Manchester City, Arsenal and Leeds, pundits and Liverpool fans saw this as the toughest test to date for the Reds. The threat of Vardy up against Matip and Fabinho was a particular battle that many thought Leicester would attempt to exploit. Instead, nothing materialised as the two centre halves dominated the former England international.
This battle epitomised Liverpool’s overall performance as they strangled Rodgers’ side from the first kick of the ball, never relinquishing the pressure until the referee’s final whistle. Every player shined brightly and brought something to the impeccable performance.
Klopp will be delighted, more so than normal due to the circumstances, with his tactical skill set matching perfectly with the team selection. With everyone stepping up when called upon and a massive influx of games coming over the winter period, the German will need his side to continue this impressive form until reinforcements can be called upon in January.
With many of the major players out injured for Klopp’s side, the German shuffled the pack to great success as he made four changes from the draw with Manchester City last time out. Trent Alexander-Arnold (calf), Jordan Henderson (groin), Joe Gomez (knee) and Mohamed Salah (COVID-19) dropped out with James Miner, Curtis Jones, Fabinho and Naby Keïta selected in their place.
Here are my winners and losers from the game:
Andrew RobertsonEmbed from Getty Images
A master of his craft. The week after leading his country to its first major tournament in over 20 years, he returns to Merseyside to put in a performance like this. After being an injury doubt, picking up a hamstring injury with Scotland, the 26-year-old returned to the Liverpool backline like nothing had happened.
Alongside Sadio Mané, Robertson ripped apart the right side of Leicester’s defence. Marc Albrighton had a game to forget as he was consistently caught out by the rampaging Scot. Crosses were coming in from the left at a ridiculous rate as it seemed Leicester had settled for taking their chances in heading away any danger.
This proved to be their downfall as Robertson delivered a sumptuous cross into the middle, putting it on a plate for Diogo Jota to nod home. This threat wouldn’t go away in the second period as the Scottish international would continue to get into the box and deliver to his hungry offensive line.
The Foxes managed very little going the other way. Up against the former Hull player, every attack they attempted to manufacture down the right ended before it even began. James Maddison in particular had a torrid time up against Liverpool’s left back as he was left clueless on how to get past him.
This was another stunning performance from the fan favourite. With Alexander-Arnold not around, he knew he had to be the chief creator from the back and took that mantle with ease. No wonder he is regarded as one of, if not the best, left back in the world.
James MilnerEmbed from Getty Images
Mr Consistent. A juggernaut at the back. He continues to put everything on the line for the shirt regardless of where he plays. This attitude also shows what Liverpool sometimes lack when he is not in the side. His all-round display was wonderful, as captain he led his team in a dominant fashion. Everything we expected from him, he delivered and then some.
The 34-year-old was targeted early in the game by James Justin and Harvey Barnes as a potential weak point in the back line. This proved to be unsuccessful after the opening five minutes of sustained pressure. Harvey Barnes went missing from the fifth minute onward with Milner wrapping him up and dominating the England international.
He shouted at his teammates if he thought they weren’t giving everything to the team and then showed what was expected of them by doing it himself. Offensively he was brilliant giving Jota the support he needed down the right. When he moved into midfield in the second half, he continued that support for the forwards whilst managing the game in a way that James Milner does best.
If ever experience showed in a display, this was it. Everything he did brought calmness to the team as he marshaled the troops in front of him to perfection. With Naby Keïta now out of action for at least a couple of weeks, Milner will be required to lead from the front again on Wednesday night against Atalanta.
Joël MatipEmbed from Getty Images
As Liverpool’s only fit first team defender, it was important that Matip took control of the backline and became the leader in defence. With no van Dijk or Gomez now for the season, all eyes were on him once again on Sunday evening and wow did he deliver.
Much of the week was spent talking about Jamie Vardy and what he would do to the Reds weakened backline. Matip however made sure that none of what people imagined came to fruition as the former England international was silenced throughout. For the vast majority of the game, it was hard to notice that Vardy was even on the pitch.
The former Cameroon international was flawless. Won every header, first to every ball, communicating with Milner, Alisson and Fabinho perfectly. His performances in the last two games have reminded me of the form we saw from him in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, where he was so influential in winning the sixth European cup.
With the defence on their last legs, the 29-year-old stepped up and delivered a commanding performance. With fans praying that Liverpool can get to the January transfer window unscathed, Matip will have a major influence on whether this will become reality. If he continues to play like he has and stays fit in the process, the Reds might be in a major position of strength come the mid-season transfer window.
Naby KeïtaEmbed from Getty Images
Was arguably the best player on the pitch up until his injury. His pressing and calmness in midfield were excellent, with his pressure on Mendy and the Leicester back four a particular highlight. When he had the ball at his feet he was composed, always searching for a forward pass and connected brilliantly with Sadio Mané in most attacks for the Reds.
Unfortunately, like much of his Liverpool career, he has picked up an injury that has prevented him building upon all of his good work. His hamstring tweak cost him a first 90 minutes in months and an opportunity to stamp his authority in the midfield.
Over the last couple of seasons when the Guinea international has played, he has been wonderful to watch. The reason the Reds parted with over £50 million for him is clear to see. The persistent injuries however continuously get in his way and stop him from being a consistent force in this side.
Hopefully this will be a short lay off for the 25-year-old as the injury seemed minor, but with Thiago, Henderson and possibly Oxlade-Chamberlain all back in the next couple of weeks, he might have to bide his time on the bench once again to wait for that starting berth opportunity.
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