As Newcastle United shocked the country with their win over Manchester City last night, the onus was very much on Liverpool to see if they could take the best chance they’re likely to get for the remainder of the season to move seven points clear at the top of the league.
Ultimately it proved to be a massive letdown for Liverpool supporters as their players squandered the chance to steal a march on City. A 1-1 draw on a chilly Wednesday night will feel like a massive chance passed up for the Premier League leaders. Here’s a look at five things we learned from the action.
Liverpool have first half jitters
Despite an explosive opening ten minutes when the hosts scored after just two minutes and should have got another moments later, Liverpool shrank back into themselves as the first-half wore on. They seemed to be rattled by Leicester’s aggressive pressing and their creativity dipped despite dominating possession. Dropping off the gas also allowed the visitors to settle after a rattling opening ten minutes, perhaps it was just good play from Leicester, but Liverpool were a touch twitchy in the opening 45 minutes, not for the first time in recent weeks either.
Leicester play Liverpool at their own game
All credit must go to the Foxes for a splendid first-half display in which their players put in one hell of a shift to press their opponents all over the midfield. Vardy, Ndidi, Albrighton, Gray and Maddison were superb as they got their side back in to the game. Maddison’s glaring miss at the Kop End, came off the back of some excellent pressure and good sharp passing work, as they took the game to their hosts. It was a commanding display which subdued the Kop and gave their players belief that they could get something for tonight’s game.
Liverpool made to pay for rare Robertson error
The foul conceded for the costly free-kick, right on the end of the first-half, will have brought back ill memories for Liverpool fans. In their recent, darker days, when game management and defensive discipline were non-existent at Anfield, that kind of free kick was common place as frail mentalities often collapsed under pressure.
To see their usually solid stalwart of a left-back smash into a challenge, with the grace of an angry bull to a red flag, will have been galling. The resulting equaliser could well be very costly to Liverpool’s ambitions come the end of the season. Rare as Robertson’s errors have been in his Reds career, this one was extremely poor to say the least.
Leicester quality almost enough at Anfield
It was April 2017 when Liverpool were last beaten at home, but they so very nearly saw their proud record evaporate on Wednesday night as Claude Puel’s men caught them napping. Leicester have blown hot and cold so many times this season that it’s hard to know if they are actually a very good team or a bog standard mediocre outfit with a terrible mentality.
On tonight’s evidence, they clearly have the ability to be doing much better in the league. They had three real chances to pinch this one and do Manchester City a massive favour. Liverpool were shell-shocked as, for a significant period of the game, their opponents were quicker, sharper and hungrier. Puel should be delighted with a good night’s work. Whether his side can kick on from this will now be crucial for the Frenchman’s future.
Liverpool fluff their lines
Klopp said earlier this week that he couldn’t enjoy the title race and on the evidence of his side’s display on Wednesday, neither can his players.
They got off to the best possible start against Leicester, but the enormity of what they could have achieved on the night seem to get to them. Worryingly, they were flat, again. That’s now four games in a row, where a tepid first-half display has left the fans frustrated. It wasn’t until Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino began to come deeper for the ball after the hour mark, that Liverpool found their feet again. They look better with Fabinho in the side as well, with doubts remaining about Keita and Shaqiri as regular starters as things stand.
They are capable of so much more creativity and fluidity. They can blame the pitch and some poor calls from the officials, but these are ultimately pretty sorry excuses. Klopp will know deep down that his side must find the nerve to see this title race out, otherwise the five point gap they now hold over City, is not going to be anywhere near enough.