Thanks very much to guest poster @Lordofpendragon for this piece!
Champions fall at Anfield
On a day when much of the bubbling excitement of Liverpool’s first home game of the season was centred around the opening of the new Main Stand, the Reds made sure there was plenty of excitement on the pitch at the same time. It has not been an easy start to the season for Klopp’s side, with the first three games of the season being away from home and in difficult environments such as the Emirates and White Hart Lane. And after the blip at Burnley and the uneasy draw at Spurs, it was finally time to return to more familiar surroundings. Defending champions Leicester certainly came with plenty of confidence, despite Claudio Ranieri attempting to pass the pressure onto Liverpool by boldly claiming that the Reds were among the title favourites, as seen by their bright opening, when they swiftly traded blows and won a corner within the opening minutes of the first half. That however was soon forgotten as the Reds solidly defended against Leicester’s early energy before unleashing our own, which ultimately downed the defending champions. The Reds’ record at Anfield in recent years is hardly glittering but with yesterday’s boosting win, fortress Anfield looks rebuilt, structurally and metaphorically.
Masterclass in attack
Few will, actually none should, disagree that Liverpool were utterly convincing going forward in yesterday’s game. The likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana flanking captain Jordan Henderson proved a formidable midfield engine that constantly threatened to overrun Leicester’s own midfield while the front three of Mane, Sturridge and Firmino simply looked like they were going to hit the back of the net during every foray forward. Whenever a Liverpool player brought the ball into the attacking third, there would be at least three or more teammates to have darted into dangerous attacking positions in the Leicester box, stretching and turning the Foxes defence aside. Reverted to a preferred central role, Sturridge shone as the Reds’ attacking pivot; his clever movement on and off the ball causing the Leicester back-line plenty of problems. While he did not manage to net despite having a clear cut chance, he nevertheless showcased his immense talent by giving two assists to his teammates, notably his exquisite back-heel flip for Mane’s goal. Mane on the other hand is looking like a bargain at £34million. His sharp movement and energetic runs have given Liverpool a new edge on the attacking front, on top of Sturridge’s genius and Firmino’s stardust. If the Reds can display such a masterclass in attack in every home game, who know where it will bring them to come end of the season.
Makeshift defence decent but can’t be long term solution
Apart from Lucas’s dire moment, Liverpool’s makeshift defence actually did really well against the dangerous front men of Leicester, considering that two of the back four were natural midfielders. Lucas had filled in the role at the back pretty well last season, when Klopp hand was forced due to an injury crisis among the centre-backs, and placed up against the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez yesterday, the Brazilian midfielder stood up to the challenge and did not capitulate even after his shocker which gave Vardy his goal. Milner who was filling in once again at left-back following the dropping of Moreno, put in another great shift in the role, notably his contribution to Firmino’s opener, while also minding his defensive lines well to keep Leicester at bay. While Milner’s great work-rate and tactical awareness has made him a solid makeshift left-back in recent games, his talents and range of passing seem better used when he is in a role higher up the pitch and more centralised. Lucas and Milner have proved to be good stop-gap replacements but they can’t quite be Liverpool’s long term solutions at the back. In Joel Matip though we’ve found an excellent defender who didn’t cost a penny, and Nathaniel Clyne is the most reliable right-back in the country.