Revealed: How Jurgen Klopp handed Leicester their first away defeat?
Festive Celebrations in Leicester City were cut short on Boxing Day as Claudio Ranieri’s men fell to their first defeat in 9 games in the Premier League this season. This was the first game of this season that the Foxes failed to score and was just the second loss for them in this impressive season.
They were at the top of the table of the Premier League on Christmas but the trip to Anfield proved to be a reality check that saw them out played in every department by a much improved Liverpool side. Jurgen Klopp slammed the players for their defeat against Watford last weekend and things seem to have improved at the club ever since.
The Reds came into this game with a few tweaks to the personnel and formation of the team. Lucas Leiva who has statistically been the best defensive mid-fielder in the Premier League this season was dropped to the bench as Klopp adopted to play a 4-2-3-1 for the game against the Foxes.
Henderson and Can shared the responsibility at the back and this proved to be a master stroke as both players saw plenty of the ball in the middle of the park. Even as Kante and King tried to hurry the Liverpool mid-field, the home team saw more of the ball than the visitors and it did not take long for them to start dominating the game.
Divock Origi who scored his first Premier League goal at Anfield in the last game at home was given a start by Klopp as Benteke was dropped to the bench. Origi’s pace and skill along with his strength provided Liverpool with an extra dimension in attack and helped Liverpool keep Leicester pinned in their half.
Ranieri set up his side to a 4-4-2 formation hoping to dominate the mid-field but the high intensity from the home side pushed Leicester down the flanks every single time in attack. This slowed down the pace of the game which made the visitors uncomfortable on the ball. The Foxes were hardly their previous self as they failed to create any chances of note in the first half.
Just as Liverpool looked settled and close to opening the scoring, Origi picked up an un-fortunate injury that forced him off. He was replaced by Christian Benteke who changed the whole complexion of the home team’s attack.
Origi ran behind the defenders and pulled them out of their positions but Benteke was strong in the middle and held the ball up well to bring his team mates into the game. This was a rare sight for a Liverpool supporter to see the team change their tactics so swiftly during the game.
Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy who have scored more than 70% of the goals for the club were hardly troubling the home side. Mahrez was given no space on the field and was never allowed to play freely in the middle. Vardy was a nuisance for the Liverpool back four but he was not his predatory self and was far from scoring a goal for the away team.
Roberto Firmino who took some slack from the fans for his previous performances played for the full 90 minutes for the first time in a Liverpool shirt. He was not electric on the field but was smart enough to create some space for himself and his team-mates. He and Emre Can played some good passes before the Brazilian found Benteke in the box who finished well with a stretching volley.
This kind of play was something that has been missing for Liverpool in the last 4 matches. They put the ball into the box more quickly and gave the big Belgian forward plenty of chances to attack the ball. The Leicester back four were pulled from side to side as pressure on the central defense increased even more.
At this time, Ranieri saw enough and decided to take off Vardy and Mahrez and give his fringe players a chance. This decision might have been made with the City game in mind but Ranieri will not be happy with his team’s performance.
They were completely outplayed in every department and were looking like an ordinary team on the night. They failed to create enough clear cut chances and relied only on set pieces and long throw ins to create something.
This made life easier for the home side as they stood tall and defended confidently even as the pressure was building up in the last 10 minutes of the game. This result will be a welcome one for Klopp who is now just 5 points away from a European spot.
The next 4 games for Liverpool are away from home starting with Sunderland in the next fixture in the Premier League. Make sure you follow our site for more such articles.
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