Jack Hallows runs over all the talking points from Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City on the Foxes home turf, the King Power Stadium.
I’m not really too sure what to make of Liverpool’s performance in that game.
We came out swinging in the first 10 minutes with Firmino and Salah both spurning glorious chances within seconds of each other before Mané grabbed his fourth goal of the season.
After that however, we just kind of… stopped?
It wasn’t that Leicester absolutely peppered our goal constantly throughout and if not for an error from Alisson we’d have left with a fourth consecutive clean sheet, however, we didn’t create anywhere near enough on the front foot.
Anyway, even though it wasn’t exactly a spectacle, there’s plenty for us to talk about, so let’s get down to it.
Jürgen’s gut-punch Reds
Something I took of note from the game, was that this is the third match out of four that Liverpool have scored right on the cusp of half time.
Against West Ham, it was Sadio Mané putting the Reds 2-0 up in the 47th minute and effectively sealing the result.
Against Crystal Palace, James Milner took the wind out of the Eagles sails by netting from the penalty spot in the 45th and here, against Leicester City, the Reds responded to the hosts little spell of first half dominance by going 2-0 up through Roberto Firmino in the 46th.
The psychological benefits of going into half time on the back of a goal are much talked about by players and managers both former and current and it’s nice to see Klopp’s men making the delivery of a gut punch goal just before the break a regular occurrence.
Teams fear the Reds’ attack, so much so that they’re bound to make mistakes and it’s seemingly becoming a consistent trend that opposition sides feel they’ve done brilliantly to get into half time with scores even or worst case scenario, being just the one goal down against Liverpool.
The more this attitude continues to ruminate throughout the league, the more mistakes will be made just before half time as teams get desperate to cling on to the slivers of hope.
It’s down to our lads to keep on capitalising and making the most of those opportunities.
Joe Gomez > Virgil van Dijk?
Okay, I’m over-exaggerating but Joe Gomez has been incredible so far this season.
The young English defender was awarded our RTK man of the match in our player ratings for his performance against Leicester and the way he rose to the occasion – despite the struggles of the usually reliable Virgil van Dijk next to him – was equal parts exciting and wonderful.
In Gomez and ‘VVD’ Liverpool have a proper quick, intelligent, composed and confident centre half pairing that are both equally comfortable with the ball at their feet as they are when defending.
Perhaps the most notable moment of the match from Gomez, was when James Maddison weaved his way clear of some lacklustre defending by Virgil and Robertson in the Reds penalty area.
The former Norwich attacker looked ironed on to score from just 10 yards out but Gomez read his intention, timed his challenge perfectly and threw himself in the way of the shot, saving a goal.
This was another fantastic outing from Gomez and long may the good signs continue from the 21-year old.
After three games of an unchanged midfield unit, Klopp decided it was time to switch it up, reinstating club captain Jordan Henderson into the starting line up ahead of Naby Keïta.
I can understand the thought process behind the change but it was still a real surprise to see it be the Guinean who dropped out.
Leicester generally play a much more attacking brand of football than the other three sides we’ve faced so far and Klopp likely expected the Foxes to attack on the counter with pace – hence the need for further solidity in the middle of the park.
However, they didn’t: the lack of Jamie Vardy at the tip of their attack likely having a lot to do with that.
With no Keïta in the Reds’ line-up, there was no one to drive the ball up the field and connect the midfield to the attack, isolating all three of Firmino, Salah and Mané for much of the match.
There was also a distinct lack of cohesiveness to our pressing with Milner winning challenges high up the field while Wijnaldum and Henderson seemed to be tripping over each others toes.
I know it’s been referenced that this midfield got us to the Champions League final – even though most of our best knockout stage football came with Oxlade-Chamberlain featuring heavily – but in truth, this actual combination doesn’t have enough creativity or pace of both foot and mind to add to their industry and hard work.
A trio of Henderson, Milner and Keïta or Henderson, Wijnaldum and Keïta or even the trio that played the opening three matches works because Keïta is there to pick up the slack.
Without him it’s all simply far too one dimensional in the middle of the park.
It also didn’t help that Wijnaldum went from being the key cog we’ve seen of late when playing as a ‘6’ to becoming a literal ghost as an ‘8,’ while Henderson – despite a number of good performances from the bench recently – looked as if he hadn’t played football for years.
Liverpool’s next game in the Premier League is going to be an away day at Tottenham Hotspur and for the Reds to emerge from London victorious, they’re simply going to need Naby Keïta to feature in the starting line-up!
Alisson makes a blunder
Alisson’s little flick over Anthony Knockhaert against Brighton was a huge talking point this week.
Some said the Brazilian should just carry it on and if he makes a mistake, he makes a mistake. Others said it was ludicrous and he should revert to being a hit it long every time type keeper and some… some just made strange comments about Karius even though he no longer plays for the club.
The big question though, was how long is it going to be before Alisson makes an error?
Turns out we only had to wait seven days.
A string of poor passes led to the Brazilian getting sold horrendously short by a poor back pass from Virgil van Dijk and rather than boot the ball clear, Alisson decided to try and Cruyff turn the Leicester attacker, getting the ball trapped under his feet and losing out.
He made a mistake, it happens.
It’ll be a Twitter meme for a while which will be frustrating but we didn’t end up losing the game and the only thing that matters is how the former Roma man reacts now.
Judging by the way he simply shrugged it off amid jeers and yells for the remainder of the game at the King Power, there won’t be any need for worries.
Alisson is a confident guy and his comments post match portray a really mentally assured goalkeeper who is willing to learn while putting any errors behind him.
It’s likely this won’t phase him for more than 10 minutes after the final whistle and once he’s taken an initial bollocking from Klopp – who was as you’d expect, not happy – it’ll all be in the past and he’ll be back to normal.
A little bit of club history
That’s Premier League history for Liverpool Football Club.
It’s the first time that the Reds have won their opening four games on the bounce since the top tier of English football was coined the “Premier League.”
While they didn’t quite manage to make it four clean sheets in a row which would’ve seen them post the literally perfect start, it’s still 12 points from 12 and Klopp’s men have truly hit the ground running in terms of their results.
With a tough month of fixtures looming on the horizon post-international break though, it’s going to be key that Liverpool’s performances start reflecting the results they’ve been getting.
While the Leicester victory was the first time Klopp’s men have looked genuinely poor, the fact that Liverpool have had to grind out results over recent weeks is proof that the players still aren’t quite operating with full fluency.
Next up for Liverpool is a trip to Wembley after the international break to play Tottenham Hotspur and if the Reds can’t increase their performance levels tenfold on what we saw against Leicester, then it’s going to be a much tougher afternoon.
Oh, special mention for Sadio Mané by the way who also made it four from four with his goal in the 10th minute. Liverpool’s new no.10 has been on fire to start this season and looks to be their man in form at the moment!