Leicester 1 – 2 Liverpool

Another Hard Fought Win

Liverpool again failed to produce a top-drawer performance, but still managed to achieve a gritty win.

Liverpool’s attack didn’t click regularly and the midfield organisation was erratic; fortunately though, the backline was mostly solid baring one glaring mistake.

Alisson’s horror moment was made less relevant by Mane’s opener and Firmino’s header, but the Reds will need to regroup and step up a gear after the international break.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 5:

Alisson produced several strong saves and pressure-relieving passes throughout the match, but ultimately, all of that was overshadowed by one moment of madness.

Alisson tried to dribble his way out of trouble and gifted possession to Iheanacho when a simple clearance was needed. Alisson accepted responsibility for the mistake though and assured fans that he won’t be making the same mistake in the future.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6:

Trent was targeted throughout the game by the Leicester attack, and while they did find some joy against him, he wasn’t supported enough by his teammates.

It’s a shame Trent has to travel with the England squad because he could use some more time on the training pitch.

Joe Gomez – 9:

This was propbably Joe’s best performance in his career, easily dealing with the pacy Demarai Gray, whilst covering his more experienced partner to produce an outstanding block against James Maddison.

His ability on the ball flew under the radar due to his defensive display, but he was able to retain possession consistently despite being put under pressure.

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

A bit of complacency has started to creep into VVD’s game, at times he was far too casual with and without the ball.

Most importantly, he almost let Maddison in to level the scores, and was partially at fault for the Alisson fiasco after misplacing a back pass wide of the goalkeeper.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo’s linkup play for Mane’s goal was simply outstanding. Cutting in from the left, exchanging a flurry of short-passes and bursting through the back-line before laying it off.

To top his week off, he was made captain of the Scottish national side, fully deserved for a world-class competitor.

Jordan Henderson – 5:

Simply put, Liverpool’s skipper was not good enough, and the fact that the team’s passing and possession stats spiked after he was withdrawn speaks volumes.

Many fans didn’t notice that Hendo put both Gomez and VVD under pressure in the build up to Leicester’s goal by passing to them when they were surrounded despite the fact that Milner was free and calling for the ball.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6:

Gini moved back up into a more advanced role to accommodate Hendo’s inclusion, and his versatility was certainly on show.

His performance didn’t reach the heights of previous weeks, but he was reliable when called upon at both ends of the pitch.

James Milner – 6:

Milner was a victim of the shift in dynamics in the midfield; his own performance was fine but he suffered from being overrun due to the uncertainty and disorganisation around him.

Despite this, he notched another assist after delivering a tantalising cross into the path of Firmino.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane was a constant threat to Leicester’s defence and was rewarded with the opening goal.

His pressing was equally impressive and there’s no doubt that if Salah and Firmino start playing to his level, then last season’s achievements can be improved upon.

Mo Salah – 6:

Salah missed a glorious chance early on which set the tone for the performance that followed.

Although he’s being targeted more, Liverpool fan’s will be hoping that Salah can come back stronger after the international break.

Bobby Firmino – 7:

This was Firmino’s best performance of the new season as he too is slowly rediscovering his form of last season.

Off the ball, the Brazillian is better than anyone in the league, he just needs to dust off the cobwebs on the ball to get back to his best.

Subs

Xheridan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 70′) 7:

Shaq came on and helped see out the game with some intelligent decisions in vital moments.

Naby Keita – (on for Henderson 70′) 6:

His best contribution was his energy; in hindsight he should’ve started the game to exploit the half-spaces between Leicester’s defence and midfield.

Joel Matip – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A:

Not enough time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Mignolet, Moreno, Lallana, Sturridge

Jurgen Klopp – 5:

Taking Keita out of the starting lineup for Hendo was a bizarre decision. The midfield has been one of the bright points this season and didn’t need tweaking – certainly not in this game where dynamism was desperately needed.

Klopp didn’t help matters by waiting until the 70th minute to address the issue, but ultimately made the right call by bringing on Shaqiri and Keita instead of more conservative options that were available.

Front Three Still Scoring

Fans and pundits have rightly commented on the fact that Liverpool’s scintillating attack has yet to reach the heights of last season.

However, it is equally undeniable that despite their sub-par performances overall, they’ve still been scoring and winning matches.

Ultimately that is what matters most and it makes you wonder what they’ll be like when they do start playing better as a unit.

Winning Ugly

It’s an often repeated cliche, but it’s true, the best teams find a way to win even when they’re playing at their worst. Unfortunetly this cliche rarely used to apply to the Reds.

Liverpool have been far from outstanding in any of their first four games, and yet for the first time ever in the Premier League, they’ve taken maximum points from those fixtures.

Manchester City have arguably played better, yet they drew with Wolves and nearly did the same against Newcastle. Long may this very un-Liverpool trend continue.

Good Time for a Break?

Given the fact that we’re not playing well, it’d be easy to assume that the international break has come at a good time.

However, most of our players will be travelling with their national sides when we badly needed them on the training pitch working together to improve performances.

They’ll return to what could be the most important period of the season with games against Tottenham, PSG, Southampton, Chelsea, Chelsea again, then Napoli and Manchester City on the horizon.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 04/09/2018

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