I DIDN’T see the game on Tuesday night. I was otherwise engaged, but as ever when I can’t watch the game live, I spend 90 minutes constantly refreshing Twitter to see how things are going. The first 65 minutes went like this:
“Liverpool have started brightly.”
“The Reds are causing chaos.”
“Just a matter of time until they make the breakthrough.”
“Leicester can’t handle this onslaught.”
The alarm clock ticks over to 6am and blares out “Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb”, so I smash it to little bits.
When Mohamed Salah misses that open goal early today, I expect to wake again. The familiarity of the duvet, the start of another same day, Sonny Bono filling my ears with cheery nonsense, but no, not this time. Instead Salah just scored his next chance, and the curse is broken, for now at least.
The score was closer than it should have been thanks to some more comedy defending, some atrocious refereeing and another Simon Mignolet penalty save, a heart overworking but ultimately satisfying 3-2 win it was. A first win away from home in the league for the Mighty Reds this season.
Simon Mignolet: 7
The entire game was almost a microcosm of the essence of Mignolet. A dodgy moment where he almost gave the ball to Jamie Vardy, a couple of very good saves, conceding two and then causing, and saving, a penalty. Some of his stops were crucial and very good, and he was blatantly fouled by Shinji Okazaki in the buildup to the first goal. Do wonder if he could have done better on the second. It was a good save but surely every ‘keeper tries to push that over the bar rather than back across the goal.
Not sure it was a penalty (he got the ball first) but probably deserves to be given for Mig bizarrely forgetting for a moment he can use his hands. Loved the save though. Vardy smashes loads of those down the middle and Big Si clearly did his homework again.
Joe Gomez: 5
Hard day for Gomez. Marc Albrighton is a pain in the arse to play against, and he got caught a few times. Made some good blocks and tackles though. Didn’t offer much going the other way, and if he’s going to be a full back much more he should really work on his crosses. Seems to want to float them into a random area rather than whipping in or directing them purposefully.
Joel Matip: 7
I know there’s going to be a lot of debate about the buildup to the first, but I’m sorry, I can’t hold much if any blame on Joel for that. It’s not a foul for one thing, it’s a clear dive from Vardy. I’ve seen some suggest he shouldn’t have even got involved. He’s a defender with a 500mph striker on his tail and a notoriously indecisive ‘keeper coming for the ball. If he’d let Vardy close Mignolet down and Mignolet had messed up the kick, you’d all have rightly spat acid at Matip. All he did was try and muscle Vardy away, as every competent defender would in that scenario, and the little snide kicks Matip and flings himself over, once again fooling a dozy referee.
Other than that I thought Matip was good. A couple of nervous clearances but lots of really good interceptions when stepping up to stop Leicester getting through the middle, held a good line generally with Dejan Lovren to play them offside time and again, and his distribution was generally sound as well.
Dejan Lovren: 5
If there’s one lad who doesn’t help with nervousness around the team it’s this guy. Next week I want one training session where all he does is pass the ball to his left back. Again, and again, and again, and again, until he learns how to without conceding a throw in and giving the opposition a metaphorical erection. Did win some good headers, but overall not a great day for him.
Alberto Moreno: 6
Started the game really well, almost as well as he did against Sevilla. Was bombing down the left side, stretching them and linking up with Phil Coutinho, then does really well to win the free kick that Phil bangs in. Then it all starts to go a bit old fashioned for him. For some reason Riyad Mahrez didn’t seem interested in attacking Albie, but those who did seemed to have some luck, especially second half when he really struggled with Demarai Gray. Gets credit for trying to wind Vardy up near the end though.
Jordan Henderson: 8
A much-improved showing from the skipper. Played with a bit more blood and thunder. Made some big tackles and seemed to get onto a lot of loose balls. It appeared that he had either been given, or was giving himself, more license to get forward, hence the goal. Does really well there to find the space and then calmly finish. Got back to clear loads and got in the refs ear plenty, which was absolutely necessary.
Gini Wijnaldum: 6
Another pretty anonymous outing in an away game for Gini. There’s something about not being at Anfield that seems to sap his strength. Lost out on loads of 50-50s, and got outmuscled on the rare occasions he got on the ball. Did improve a bit towards the end, and should have put the game to bed with the shot from the edge of the area from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s layoff.
Emre Can: 7
Opposed to Gini, Emre was all action first half. He was everywhere, getting on everything, dribbling with purpose, really setting the tempo for what Liverpool did in that first 45. So unlucky hitting the post early on. Quietened down in the second and wasted a couple of good chances on goal. Team did seem to struggle a bit just after he came off as well.
Philippe Coutinho: 9
Mes que un traidor. Phil was back to his best today. So incredibly assured on the ball, making Leicester’s lads look like mugs on several occasions. His ball in for Salah’s header is sublime, his freekick is even better, and some of his dribbles and layoffs took me back to a time where I didn’t think he was a little turncoat bellend. If he can put in showings like that consistently this season I’ll start to forgive him… until next summer.
Mohamed Salah: 8
Mo Salah did what Mo Salah does. Infuriating miss followed by well-taken goal, and then just a general performance of being a thorn in the balls of the left back. His link ups with Coutinho are going to be a sight to see this season. His control from long balls was really special as well, and using that famous arse of his to turn away from players and keep possession at times.
Roberto Firmino: 6
A quiet evening for Bobby. Usual selfless tracking back and good defensive work, but offensively offered little to nothing. Everything seemed to be going down the flanks and, when it came through the middle, Can was usually trying to do something to get it in the goal himself. Should probably have done better with the left-footed shot he dragged wide first half, and frustration was clear to see when he blammed a 30 yarder over shortly before coming off.
Daniel Sturridge: 7
Really good cameo from Studgey. Hoped he would give more of a direct goal threat than Firmino had done, and didn’t disappoint. Always wanted to get on the ball and face the goal, but wasn’t overly selfish. Played a couple of lovely balls into teammates, including to set up Henderson for the third goal, and had two decent efforts himself. If he can continue to get minutes under his belt and stay fit he could really be a superb option for Klopp this season.
James Milner: 6
Worked hard but was always going to be difficult to replace the engine Can was providing to the midfield when he came on cold. Harried Leicester lads well and forced some errors. Credit as well for carrying on when it looked like he’d picked up an ankle injury after he’d been trod on by the world’s most skillful fridge-freezer, Harry Maguire.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Felt sorry for Oxo-Chambo after the relentless abuse he got on Tuesday. As I said, I didn’t see the game but when I watched it back I certainly expected worse than I saw (he was a bit pap admittedly). Did good bits and bad bits today. Made good runs to get in down their right twice, but skewed a poor effort across goal with one, then was unlucky not to get an assist after laying one onto Wijnaldum. It will come for him.
There, we won. Yes, there were still worrying moments but Leicester away is a hard game, as we all know too well. We’ve won, now turn that frown upside down and let’s look ahead to our mission to Moscow.
By the way, after my phone confirmed the 2-0 defeat on Tuesday, someone came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Dave!” he said, to which I responded “Ned!” and punched him in the face.
And if you think it’s a tad trite that you’re reading yet another article about Liverpool that references Groundhog Day, then I hope you at least appreciate the irony in that.