Leicester City 2 Liverpool 0: ‘Second Stringers’ Outshine Senior Stars In Sorry Display

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2017: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HAVING made eight changes from the Liverpool side that against Burnley at the weekend, Jürgen Klopp gave his supporting cast a chance to put themselves forward for a leading role. 

However, as has been typical of Liverpool of late, The Reds once again flattered to deceive.

Liverpool started the game well and seem to have a plan to expose the Leicester back four, Andy Robertson in particular taking advantage of the space on the left allowed by Phil Coutinho’s movement, but having failed to make anything of the number of chances afforded to them in the first half, the creeping doubt that accompanies this side when they’ve been wasteful set in the moment half time arrived.

It’s too easy to pin the second half on one change, and saving Coutinho’s legs for the weekend made, and still does make, perfect sense and does not excuse what followed, Liverpool should have enough in their locker to see off a poor Leicester side.

The energetic profligacy of the first period could not have been more different from what was a listless, leaderless second, a 45 minutes devoid of ideas and inspiration.

It’s a shame that Dom Solanke and Robertson’s encouraging first-half forays will be forgotten, both dragged down the dirge of second half, but in the final analysis they are probably, alongside Danny Ward, the only members of the “second” squad who have enhanced their credentials on the night.

Of all the anticipated changes, the Welsh goalkeeper was the one that had more eyes on him than most and can be happy with his performance, Ward could do nothing about the goals he conceded, cleared his lines well, looked unflustered, made a really smart save low to his left when the game was effectively over and did something Liverpool fans haven’t seen since Pepe Reina was good by attacking a set piece and taking the ball over the top of opposition attackers and his own defenders on the edge of his own area.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2017: Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That’s where the positives end…

The much-celebrated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, given his first start in a Liverpool shirt, showed very little of the pace and drive expected of him and looked sloppy in the central-midfield area he craves to play in and wasteful when further up the field.

Marko Grujic endured a similar night, the 21-year-old has an elegance about him but on tonight’s display can only play in the direction he’s facing, is a walking yellow card and is nowhere near fast enough to play in this Liverpool side long term.

And while the mind may be willing and the desire undeniable, John Flanagan’s injuries again told their own story on his return to the side tonight and he again looked a million miles from the player that smashed his way into the best Liverpool side of the last 10 years.

But to stick all of the blame tonight on the second stringers would be to absolve the senior members of tonight’s team of responsibility.

Both Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson in particular had nights to forget, the latter showing nothing like the form of last season, the dynamism that defined his better performances was again missing, as was the maturity and leadership required to steady the ship at the first sign of stormy water.

That Liverpool only seem to have one gear, stall badly and blow themselves out when they aren’t a full throttle is massive cause for alarm, the ability for sides to shift up and down when the need to “keep and contain” is paramount to any team with designs on trophies.

It is that lack of nous, more than a lack of talent, that’s the most worrying trait within this squad and one that cannot wait until January to be corrected.

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  1. Agree with some but not all. I thought Ward Robertson Solanke Wiodburn …. and Grujic … did very well, and enhanced their reputations. Good to see Ings and Flanagan at least show that they can return in time to full fitness. We miss Lallana dreadfully. Think he is much more important to us than Coutinho who was wasteful again. The worrying thing is our inability to take back the momentum once it’s lost. We need Hendo back to his best like Lallana he is integral to the team playing well

  2. It’s easy to criticise but this performance leaves no other option. We are seriously under performing. We are all fed up with the element of our ‘fans’ who are calling for Kloppnto go but he worry is that even the most loyal of us are starting to have our doubtd. No more room for these sort of Leeds get it right in Saturday or the howls of discontent will be heard all across Merseyside.

  3. We’ll have fun watching this team under Klopp. Better days
    than today.
    But we ain’t winning a league, which is what we’re all in for.

  4. The most teeth-grindingly infuriating thing is that we are the only side in the top 10 that could lose in these circumstances. Leicester first half were the most diabolical opponents we have played possibly ever. Yet we can’t score and what’s more actually manage to lose. All they needed to do second half in order to beat us was do some running in our final third, get the crowd to do some shouting, kick the ball into our box and watch us shit our pants. It’s the same story every week.

    Nothing we do makes sense. We play some mesmerising stuff yet you still know a goal isn’t coming. Conversely, we defend reasonably well for much of the game yet you still know the opponent is scoring.

    The cliche checklist:

    On top for most of game? Check

    More possession? Check

    Wasted chances? Check

    Opponents somehow improving second half? Check

    Scoring with their first meaningful attack? Check

    We’re seeing most of the above all of the time now, to the point of parody. I’d honestly rather us kick the ball out of the stadium if it gets near the 18 yard line thsn try to defend it. We have to do ANYTHING to keep the ball out of our box.

    • there was another odd thing we’ve started to do.
      First half Danny Ward was launching the ball first time every time it came into the box.
      Second half we started to try and play out on every occasion. Ward to Klavan to Gomez to Ward – it just invited pressure onto us. As soon as we fed it into midfield Leicester were on us.
      Now, I don’t know if this was a design to draw Leicester up the pitch, but it seemed to create more panic in us than was necessary.

      • I think that’s the point.
        It’s meant to pull their players out from sitting so deep and leave space in and around them.

  5. It was a fun match, and going out at the earliest opportunity is the next best thing to winning the competition. I thought a few of the lads did well. Obviously, there was no finishing touch, but when you make this many changes the occasion becomes a glorified friendly. We’re much better than Leicester, a fact we need demonstrate on Saturday, in the really important match.

    Ward did well, Flanagan alright – he knows his limitations and didn’t bomb on, Gomez and Klavan were alright too, especially in possession but obviously both have their issues with pure defending. Robertson was at times superb, his crossing deserved an old school centre forward attacking them, or even anyone with a goalscorer’s instinct. I thought Grujic was alright, he has something that our other midfielders don’t have which is great height and physical presence, he can get better. Coutinho was at times wasteful and at other time dazzling. He’s a genuinely superb player. Solanke looked great in the buildup and up for the battle but fluffed a couple of finishes that would have secured the tie first half, no issues. Wijnaldum was neat and tidy without being massively influential. Woodburn came on and looked like a Coutinho-lite, with great skill and a decent shot. He’s only 17, and if his career takes on an upward trajectory, then he’ll be mint.

    Only real downside was Henderson, he looks nowhere near where he was, and can’t really put an argument in for starting anymore. He needs to work his way into form. Part of the reason Leicester scored twice was because the midfield were non-existent in the crucial positions.

    OK, it was a crap result, but you can’t dwell on it.

  6. Should be playing 4-4-2 diamond more often and then limit the number of changes to mac 6 players from game to game. At this point I wouldn’t mind seeing Milner as DM.

  7. I don’t particularly rate Henderson all that much, but Klopp playing him as DM position is making it difficult for Henderson to really progress in a position he played better in which was further up front in attacking Mid.

    Add to this he is made captain and it’s become a cliche as to how he goes missing in games.

    Why doesn’t Klopp try someone else in that position instead or try different formation and allow Henderson to develop his up front game while captaining the side?

    I for one would think Henderson might actually become confident and maybe improve his game, maybe stop his passive approach and develop his leadership.

    Last night’s game was an opportunity for him to do that with all the kids playing, etc.

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