Leicester outclassed as Liverpool remain team to beat in title race


Jonny Evans' own goal gave Liverpool the lead
Jonny Evans’ own goal gave Liverpool the lead at Anfield

Leicester City may have felt form, fortunes and the omens were on their side as they prepared to face Liverpool at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers’ side could have gone top of the Premier League with victory, testimony to their fine start to the season, while Liverpool were missing stellar performers in all parts of the team.

And for the statistically minded, Liverpool went into the game having equalled their previous longest unbeaten home league run of 63 games – ended by Leicester City in January 1981 after almost three years.

Instead, the Foxes headed out of Anfield soundly beaten by the reigning champions, who added that history-making 64th unbeaten home game to garnish their 3-0 victory.

Leicester are still in the top four and only two points adrift of the top two – with Tottenham leading the league from Liverpool on goal difference. So it is hardly crisis time, merely a reality check similar to the one they received last Christmas when Jurgen Klopp’s side trounced the Foxes, then in second place, 4-0 at the King Power Stadium.

As much will be made of Liverpool’s injuries, it should be stated for context that Leicester are also currently without key personnel, such as Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu, Wilfred Ndidi, Timothy Castagne and Daniel Amartey.

This was, however, very much a cold shower for them. They have made much progress under Rodgers, but there is much further to go before their fans can harbour dreams of a repeat of their glorious, miraculous Premier League title win of 2015-16.

Diogo Jota
Diogo Jota is the first player in Liverpool’s history to score in each of his first four home top-flight league appearances for the club

Liverpool were simply too strong, too quick, too powerful and too potent from first whistle to last, with only the woodwork and the excellence of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel saving them from being overwhelmed.

Leicester did not move the ball with their usual pace while Jamie Vardy, who would have fancied his chances against a Liverpool defence stripped of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold, was left isolated. It would be stretching the point to even suggest he was feeding off scraps.

By contrast, Liverpool were relentless, despite an absentee list that also included Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah – who tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Egypt.

If this is Liverpool without those influential names, then it is a frightening prospect for those wishing to take their title off them. The manager was left to vent afterwards about the fixture scheduling in this condensed season, but his team are still keeping pace at the top.

Spurs, under that serial winner Jose Mourinho, are looking as if they might have a say in the title shake-up, especially after beating Manchester City, while Chelsea may be quietly harbouring similar aspirations as they move under the radar.

City and Pep Guardiola must also be factored into the equation but there is something brittle about their current side, a flaw that undermined their chances last season.

It is Liverpool, in any guise, who remain the team to beat, as Leicester discovered in painful fashion at Anfield.

If there was one moment that summed up an imperious performance, it was their second goal scored by Diogo Jota, who has settled to life at Anfield as if to the manner born.

The move contained 30 passes and was concluded by a lethal glancing header from the £45m Portuguese forward as he showed movement and technique to make the most of a quite magnificent cross from left-back Andrew Robertson.

Klopp fist-pumped his way down the tunnel at the final whistle, beaming with delight after congratulating his Liverpool players and commiserating with beaten opponents. He knew this was a potentially difficult assignment with his team in somewhat reduced circumstances but they sailed through it in outstanding style.

Leicester dropped from their usual standards and, at times, lacked ambition and self-belief that they could grasp the opportunity afforded to them by Liverpool’s injuries.

As others have found out in recent years, there is no shame in leaving Anfield well beaten. It has happened to plenty of others but for Rodgers and his players, this was a chance not taken.



BBC News