FULL TIME AT ANFIELD REVIEW: REDS ARE GIVEN A SPANKING AT RESURGENT CHAMPIONS LEICESTER
In what should have been yet another regulation win over yet another relegation team; our lads bottled it with everything to play for. Teams who go on to win titles are scrappers who can and will dig through every blade of grass to keep their consistency up and most importantly such teams do not make mistakes when it comes to kicking a man when he’s down. Leicester without a goal since the turn of the new year, in free fall into the relegation zone, and without their manager; totally and absolutely ripe for the picking and yet somehow Klopp’s team could not find a way through.
I’ve got a confession to make, I don’t watch live matches. Well I do, just not the ones Liverpool feature in; I’m like Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball. I’m too invested and would probably rip out my chest hair with each missed opportunity and on every defensive howler. So I wait, record the match on the PVR, check the scores online and then replay to find out what really transpired, but for this game I made an exception, I sat through 90 minutes of what was supposed to be a straight up butchery of the league’s defending champions. I felt for Leicester prior to the starting whistle but the laws of the jungle would have to apply and the weak was not to be spared, not with Mourinho’s United hot on our heels and a possible Champions League next season to secure.
Looking at the lineup I was quite confident but like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Lucas Leiva has no business being in CB. For a player who’s slightly below average as a DM, light years from being a stellar CM, whose awareness is as effective as Valencia’s left foot, and who I feel is long overdue for an indefinite loan spell to Wherever FC; yet somehow this man keeps finding his way into our starting lineup. Nevertheless, I believed Milner, Matip, and Clyne would cover any obvious failings from Lucas in our back four (boy was I wrong). Wijnaldum, Emre Can, and Lallana worked the middle of the park looking to release Coutinho, Firmino, or Mané into Leicester’s box and frequently as humanly possible for a glorious goal padding score line to help our GD if it came down to it at season’s end.
Pain averse as I am, the evening was spent slapping my quads not plucking my chest hair as Klopp’s men put up a performance worthy of a League One midtable side squareup against an EPL team in the Carling Cup with Leicester being the EPL team. It was that bad as our starting 11 looked like they suffered from amnesia, not knowing who or where their teammates were or what plan they should be implementing. They were completely clueless as a resurgent Leicester took the game to us, dictating play, stifling whatever buildup we imagined we could start up, and making endless forays into our final third.
I’ve complained before about our lads failing to implement Red Rain early in the half since the start of the year but today’s was even worse, such a slow start definitely contributed to Leicester’s confidence as the half progressed and we gave them little excuses to explain why they would lose to us today. We didn’t get Red Rain going, we didn’t press, we didn’t outclass them, we never dominated in any of the early exchanges, and we never looked like Liverpool. So the law of the jungle applied only this time it was against us and this relegation team showed no mercy. In all honesty we were let off the hook as we went down 3-1 losers on the night; it could and should have been much more if Leicester really converted their chances.
Looking at it, really looking at our performance tonight could make even the staunchest fan wonder how in the world all eleven players could collectively play so badly, it wasn’t even the first goal but prior to it you could see the heads looking down each time we lost the ball and Leicester mounted an attack. What’s the point looking down and to your partner in a questioning manner when there’s a ball to be won?!! And Leicester picked on this early and suddenly before the hour mark they started playing like last season’s Leicester who confidently contain your buildups and get you to commit believing their vulnerability would make them break before winning the ball and sending one through to Vardy for him to convert after wrestling off one or two defenders; and here’s the kicker one of the defenders today was Lucas Leiva. And that’s exactly how it played out as Marc Albrighton found Vardy with a defense splitting through ball and Vardy beat his opponents for pace before slotting the ball past a hapless Mignolet.
Leicester’s second may well be contender for goal of the season with an absolute bolt cutter from Drinkwater after Liverpool failed to clear the Leicester corner getting just a tame header out of the box and from almost 30 yards, Drinkwater smashed it past Mignolet into the corner for Leicester’s second. If each turnover got the lads to depressing depths this surely was the final nail in the coffin because this team certainly did not look like they had two goals in them after such a dreadful first half.
And with just 10 minutes into the 2nd half, Vardy found the net again this time through a header after Christian Fuchs did superb on the wing Clyne was supposed to be guarding and sent a delightful ball in for Vardy to pick his spot as pretty much no one challenged him as he rose up to meet the cross to head in for his 2nd goal and Leicester’s 3rd for the night.
Even with a consolation goal from Coutinho in the 68th minute no single Kop at the visiting end of the King Power Stadium entertained thoughts of Istanbul ’05 certainly not with this Liverpool side. This team would need more than the 22 minutes left in the match to get a second let alone equalize and so it stayed as Klopp’s men let another struggling side off the hook handing them 3 points on a platter while leaving us exposed to a possible Europa League finish at season’s end if it doesn’t get worse; but with how our January went and with how pitiful our February ended we can’t say for sure if a top 6 finish will be on the cards at the end of May.
Milner 3.5, Lucas (2.0), Matip (4.0), Clyne (3.5);
Wijnaldum (2.5), Emre Can (1.5), Lallana (3.0);
Coutinho (4.5), Firmino (1.0), Mané (2.0).
Man of the Match