HOW much fun was that? Just about the most fun we’ve had at Anfield for some time. Liverpool showed tactical nous and passed the ball quickly with real tempo. The atmosphere was terrific as well, a Boxing Day crowd rising to the performance of the players.
Jordan Henderson for 70 minutes gave what was probably the best midfield performance any Liverpool player has put in this calendar year, switching play in every meaningful sense. And Liverpool did all this against the league leaders who have offered a puzzle many sides have struggled to solve.
It was a game to laugh your head off about, a cracking game of football between two sides who work hard and look to make things happen quickly. A game that makes you bounce out of the ground. Exactly what you want at Christmas.
Here is a list of things I wouldn’t have been laughing about had Leicester equalised very late in the game:
a) Liverpool falling out of the game in the seven or so minutes after they scored.
b) The failure to score an open goal when it was 23 on 1.
c) The lack of composure around the area, leading to a ton of shots from outside the area.
And b) is the most concerning. You don’t get many open goals in football like that. And we know that our heads will fall off to some degree until we put a run of home results together.
But also c) — the number of shots Liverpool felt they needed to have from distance was remarkably frustrating and we know patience around the area, creating seven and eight out of 10 chances is something the manager and his team have been working on. They will have to work harder.
Can and Henderson especially showed enormous quality and intelligence getting Liverpool through the first two thirds of the pitch but that quality and intelligence was lacking from those ahead of them. Time and again Liverpool rushed it in front of goal.
But enough of that. Enough of what we can dwell on that needs to improve. Enough for now. It is Boxing Day, Liverpool have beaten the league leaders and done so with aplomb. They deserved the three points.
Dejan Lovren played ever so well at centre back supplying a possible path through for the future, Nathaniel Clyne improved getting round the back, Adam Lallana was very bright and Divock Origi looked to turn them round.
The game belonged to the midfield two though. Klopp put them man for man against Leicester’s pair and they won their battles emphatically; the two best central midfielders on the pitch today were Liverpool players by some distance.
Emre Can read the game well and Henderson shifted the ball ever so quickly, turning Leicester’s back six back and forth, in and out of possession.
Leicester City’s vocal support was noticeably quietened and silenced by The Reds and, while they always posed a threat, their most likely route to success was going to be a set piece or a Liverpool error.
Neither emerged, at least not terminally.
Liverpool will hopefully keep their heads better, around the box and when ahead. But no-one can say these players, many of them the same players as those on the pitch last week against Watford, lack character, lack fight. They showed both in abundance today.
The Reds, I like to think of them laughing their heads off in the dressing room after, I like to think of them proud of themselves. They should be. They deserve to be.
Sunderland next. Let’s get on a run.
Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe