With the last five meetings producing 17 goals, more goals were definitely on the cards and these two sides duly delivered.
Both made changes to their sides; Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool welcomed their captain back to their starting XI, Jordan Henderson, with Naby Keita making way. Claude Puel’s Leicester made three changes, one enforced with the suspended Jamie Vardy being replaced by Demarai Gray and Rachid Ghezzal and Marc Albrighton coming in for Kelechi Iheanacho and Daniel Amartey.
The two sides played out an action-packed game, it was end-to-end stuff for the majority of play. In a hard-fought match it was Liverpool who managed to prevail and come out with all three points and are now four wins from four as we head into the international break. Leicester on the other hand have won two and lost two now but it has been a great start for the side and they caused a lot of problems for Liverpool and should leave today feeling quite positive in the way they played.
It was a slow start from both sides, but three minutes in we should have seen the score change in Liverpool’s favour – Firmino with a huge chance which he should have buried. His shot was saved by Schmeichel before the ball fell to Salah, who 99 times out of 100 would normally score, and with the goal was gaping he managed to put it wide. It was harder not to score – Leicester with a huge let off in the early exchanges.
It was in the tenth minute that Sadio Mane added another goal to his tally! Andy Robertson charged down the left wing persistently, bundled over a defender and delivered a low cross which fortunately fell to Sadio Mane who smashed the ball past Kasper Schmeichel to put his side one to the good. 15 goals in his last 21 games for the Senegalese forward. It was a goal that Liverpool had deserved, inside those first 10 minutes they could have had three.
Right on the half way point of the first half, Liverpool were in full swing. 70% of possession in the visitors’ favour told the majority of the story with the Reds holding the ball very well and Leicester creating nothing of note, until Demarai Gray forced a big save from Liverpool’s new goalkeeper. Gray struck a low shot and Alisson was unsighted as the ball came through Joe Gomez’s legs. The ‘keeper had to get down very quickly to make the save. After this chance, the dynamic of the game changed slightly and it was Leicester in the ascendancy.
The Reds were getting a little taste of their own medicine, in what looked to be a tactical change from Claude Puel. The hosts started to press very high and it was working, often winning the ball back high up the field. A few efforts at goal followed, albeit from outside the area, as Albrighton and Maddison fired over the bar and Chilwell forced a comfortable save from Alisson.
Liverpool weathered the storm for a long period of time until Salah forced a comfortable save with an effort from outside of the box which led to two consecutive corners for Liverpool. The second of which was whipped in by James Milner and met by Roberto Firmino whose header went past Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal, despite the Dane getting a hand to it. The ball nestled into the bottom right corner and Liverpool doubled their lead on the stroke of half time.
At half time, Leicester had managed to pull the possession stats back to 47:53 and had been dominant in the late exchanges of the first half but Liverpool, against the run of play, doubled the lead at a harsh time for Leicester. They did not deserve to be 2-0 down at this point.
There was a lot more of the same at the start of the second half and it was Leicester with the first chance. Joe Gomez produced a huge block after James Maddison managed to work his way into a brilliant goal scoring position. The English midfielder looked to be in and the shot was flying into the corner of the goal before Gomez’s intervention. Another big chance for Leicester ten minutes in, with the ball finding its way into the six-yard box from a well worked corner but Wes Morgan couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and Alisson mopped up. Shortly after the clearance, James Milner stole the ball and it was a three on two move which Liverpool failed to make pay.
A change from Claude Puel brought Kelechi Iheanacho on, an out-and-out striker, with Demarai Gray switching to a more comfortable position on the wing.
Alisson committed a huge error on the 62nd minute. An awkward ball was played back to him from Van Dijk, and he tried to beat the fresh legs of Kelechi Iheanacho who ultimately robbed him on the byline and an easy pass slipped in Rachid Ghezzal to put it into an open net. Leicester deserved the goal but most likely not in that manner. A gift from Alisson and the Foxes were back into the game with a lot of time left! It’s worth noting Van Dijk was also at fault as he should have cleared the ball rather than playing an awkward pass back to the Brazilian stopper.
A double substitution from Klopp was then made as Mo Salah’s number came up in the 70th minute, being replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri. Jordan Henderson’s time was also up, Naby Keita the man to come onto the pitch. Two big changes for Liverpool in a time when they need to settle the nerves.
Both sides clearly struggled for possession for a long period and Claude Puel made the next move in the manager battle as he brought on Shinji Okazaki for Demarai Gray, who in truth, showed he was being played out of position for the majority of this game as he failed to make anything happen. Daniel Amartey replaced James Maddison in the 83rd minute for Puel’s last gasp at making personnel changes and Klopp brought off Trent Alexander-Arnold for Joel Matip.
Five minutes of added time changed nothing for the scoreline and Liverpool prevailed in this one to maintain their 100% record. Leicester with more shots, more possession, more chances created but ultimately it wasn’t enough to beat Liverpool.
Is there more to come from Liverpool?
In my opinion, definitely. After starting the game comfortably, they showed with a bit of pressure and high press they can struggle to hold on to possession. This match will have showed the rest of the Premier League sides that when you play Liverpool, you need to step up and be in their faces for 90 minutes and they will give you chances. The Reds will need to improve drastically with respect to this and with the players they have at their disposal, I’m sure they can.
James Maddison – Leicester’s talisman?
James Maddison had an excellent game in the number ten role. It was a very impressive performance and represents a great summer signing for the Foxes. He was confident on the ball and influential in the majority of attacking build-up play from Leicester. He was substituted on the 83rd minute and Leicester immediately seemed to be lacking something, as they did when he was substituted against Manchester United on the opening day of the season. If Leicester are going to continue to improve and play well, James Maddison will be a key factor in this. It was believed Liverpool were interested in him over the summer and four games in a Leicester shirt has shown exactly why they probably were. I am certainly looking forward to watching this player grow. He is a huge talent at 21 years of age and should count himself unlucky at not being included in the recent England squad.
Alisson Becker – Time to learn!
A big mistake from Alisson Becker allowed Leicester back into the game in this one. It was mentioned last week as he casually lifted the ball over a player when in a bit of danger against Brighton. Some thought it was brilliant, others thought it was far too risky. He was questioned on this particular move after the match to which his response was effectively, this is how I play and it won’t change. It may have to now, as rather than clearing the ball here he managed to gift Leicester a way back in and Klopp was not happy with him. The Brazilian will have to learn quickly – Liverpool’s track record with goalkeepers has been far from good and anything negative like this only removes the confidence that surrounds this Liverpool side and their new found defensive qualities.
Man of the Match: Joe Gomez
The young man had a lot to do in the first and second half for me and managed to be key in keeping Leicester out multiple times, particularly at the start of the second half with a last-ditch block on a goal bound effort from James Maddison. He looked the better of the two centre backs today for Liverpool which makes a huge claim for him becoming Virgil Van Dijk’s partner for the remainder of the season. Without Gomez today, I think Leicester will have left this game with a point or even all three.
Leicester travel to Bournemouth after the international break. Sitting on two wins and two losses from their opening four games, it’s been a solid start for Puel’s side and he will want that to continue against a Bournemouth side who have been in top form! Liverpool head to Spurs when the Premier League action returns. Both sides have played out enthralling matches over the past couple of seasons and I can’t see this one being any different. Definitely one to watch!