LIVERPOOL got away with murder at the King Power this afternoon.
Liverpool — top of the league.
Liverpool were poor.
Liverpool deserve their win. You get to defend well. You get to do the business without having the ball. That is the hardest thing at times to acknowledge — when you win the way you aren’t accustomed to. Liverpool won in a way they aren’t meant to.
They are top of the league.
Football doesn’t have to make sense, but it does tend to work out.
Things that happen in the first half:
- Liverpool get behind Leicester four times and are worthy of two goals by 20.
- Liverpool score one goal.
- Gini Wijnaldum gives it away.
- Liverpool are abject for 20.
- But Leicester create nothing.
- Liverpool make it 0-2.
- Half time.
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The first half sort of makes sense as a game of football that Liverpool play. It was a firm reminder that football is sort of random and sort of not, and that you get what you deserve and what you don’t. Leicester had hard lines. But they didn’t. For a vast swathe of the first half, they were firmly second best. For a vast swathe of the first half, they were on the verge of forcing an equaliser.
James Maddison aside, they lacked Liverpool’s cunning, lacked Liverpool’s incision. But they were very much in the ascendancy at home and so often that in, and of itself, can be enough.
And so it proved. And that is the “but”. Many games have a but. In the second half, Liverpool were pushed right back by Leicester’s desire to force the issue and they were rattled by it. Gone were Liverpool’s creation of chances, they were hanging on for dear life, getting territory, forcing the ball into corners and looking to take time out of the game.
Liverpool were left to not be Liverpool, to be the side who you say “but” about. That “but” could prove positive or negative. They could find themselves being brilliant on the attack but able to hold sides out. They could find themselves being a side who promised a lot but ran out of gas.
Today, they were the side who weren’t great but found a way.
Joe Gomez’s performance was rolling a six on snakes and ladders and getting to 94. He went from supporting act to best defender on the pitch, a pitch with both Virgil van Dijk and Harry Maguire on. He went from boy to man before our very eyes. He was everything. The list of things you want from central defenders. Great on the ball, good in the air, brilliant on the turn, smartest man on the pitch, body on the line. Gomez’s performance is one to walk around. There should statues built off the back of it.
Elsewhere there was a shortage of quality but a lot of heart and a fair amount of brain. James Milner the standout for that. He oscillated between infuriating to incendiary. He won some tackles that should have meant more. He should be the man who launched Liverpool on a four on two which would have led to it being 3-0.
Instead, minutes later it was 2-1 through the goalkeeper making his first mistake of the season. He was rightly punished and he will be again. This is what we are bought into. There is no relief from this. The rough with all his smooth. I love his smooth. He will do for me.
He wasn’t punished. Roberto Firmino was dreadful but — another but — my god did he work. Did he give us everything. Did he hunt Maguire down after 90 passed. Did he make it a nightmare to have the ball around him.
Against this Liverpool side what is striking is they can keep a good side at arm’s length. Leicester hurt Liverpool but — but, but, but — they couldn’t punish them. That’s testament to a Liverpool side who went from excellent to poor in the blink of an eye but who remained switched on. They kept their shape, kept talking and kept working.
Football is the best of the sports because it makes you make peace with the random while addressing a set-piece situation while tending towards allowing class to prevail.
When our shape goes wrong it can be like a clock that can’t tick. But it can still do the business occasionally.
Class prevailed, he types as he grins to camera. Class prevails. Liverpool prevail.
Four down. Twelve from 12. Thirty-four to go. Good lord. Thanks for the break…
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“Football doesn’t have to make sense, but it does tend to work out.”
Your writing doesn’t always make sense either, but it tends to work out. :o)
Positives for me:
– Gomez coming into his own with the VVD partnertship
– Mane continuing to score.
– Milner and Robertson my favorite players, way better than Lallana or Gini who are consistently inconsistent
– We scored well and defended well (until the blunder)
– Alisson NOT Karius provided comedy this time. If he doesn’t learn from this, then expect more Benny Hill moments, though the section of the crowd wanting entertaining football received this today.
– We beat Leicester at their home ground, early afternoon time. This is very important going forward to build confidence, and consistency.
– Nice to see Matip back again. I hope he too can improve like Gomez
– Closing out of the game instead of trying to score. Very different mentality this season. Very good.
– We’re on top by goal difference though position at this point is not an issue but nice to see.
– Salah needs to learn he has a right foot and know how to use it. Just imagine how many he would score if he could do that.
– Milner’s and couple of other’s brain department as you pointed out Neil.
– Firmino, TAA, Gini need till game 10 to work their magic.
– Stupid international friendlies. I wish we come back unscathed.
– Tough run of games after the break.
But Gini? Really? Needs till game 10 to work his magic?
He was poor today (and not the only one) but has been solid for the three before it in that number 6 position. Completed 75 out of 76 passes v Brighton. Keepy-uppies, the lot. Man of the Match.
Yes I think he does need till game 10 as do many others due to fitness, etc is my reasoning. Haven’t seen anything groundbreaking so far.
It’s going to get tougher after the international break and now with Lallana just getting injured as well.
Pass completion is great, but I’m more interested in players who’ve been at the club for more than one season and have worked with the same manager, to be able to break deadlocks, score more goals, both home and away, and any other magic they get paid to perform on the pitch.
If we keep doing the business (results-wise) against the 14 smaller clubs, then I think everyone’s absolutely fine with that.
To become champion these days, you need to have a special season.
In order to have a special season, you need to earn special results, like winning away at a top Spurs side.
The next pile of fixtures and results will give us a real indication if something special is on the horizon for the Reds this season.
Homework is done. Now for the big fish.
I used to coach a boy’s team, and I actually winced to myself when we scored an early goal against a team we were expected to beat. No matter what I said beforehand it usually meant a degree of complacency set in. And once you slacken off it’s really difficult to get that intensity back. This Liverpool team are a bit like that. Get on top early in a game against “inferior” opponents and we often take the foot off, get sloppy and allow them back in. Which we did, but the difference today was that we had options on the bench who were able to add energy and a level of control. Jurgen hasn’t always got his subs right, but today he did.
12 out of 12, what’s not to like?
Klopp has come under (possibly harsh) criticism in the past in relation to his subs and when he uses them.
Thought the change on 70 made the difference. Hendo looked leggy and Mo was out of sorts not in the game at all. The change stopped any momentum they had and we got on the ball more. Shaquiri then doing a good job just keeping the ball in their corner for 5 mins.
The fact that they didn’t land a glove after the goal speaks volumes.
Agree with you on the subs.
Neil mentions Gini giving it away as being pivotal. Other than this giving Leicester “hope”, I haven’t heard any more in depth speculation on what might’ve been going from Leicester’s point of view during this time. Here’s my speculation. I suggest that Puel gave his players the instruction that they were to keep their shape and frustrate Liverpool until they received a signal. One signal would be Liverpool making a mistake, giving the ball to Leicester in Liverpool’s half. That would be the signal to go all-out, and keep going as long as Liverpool are off balance. Granted, it is Liverpool’s responsibility to regain possession and cool things down for the 5 minutes or so it would take to send Leicester back into its “holding pattern,” but they would do well to anticipate that other teams are going to have precisely the same plan.
This, to me, best explains the lasting and otherwise startling change in momentum resulting from one errant pass. The countermeasure is to anticipate this and be ready to respond and retake possession with equal intensity if a mistake is made in Liverpool’s half. It sounds kind of obvious, but Leicester were lethargic in response to errors made all over the place by Liverpool in the Leicester half. Possibly also part of the plan, I’d speculate.