Liverpool enter the international break with maximum points from the first four games after a gritty win at the King Power Stadium.
First half goals from Mané and Firmino set the Reds on the trail to a win that may please Jurgen Klopp more than a high scoring thrashing, as it was this sort of fixture that saw his side drop points in the last couple of seasons.
Alisson was at fault as Rachid Ghezzal pulled one back for the home side. The Brazilian conceded his first goal of his Premier League career as he tried to overplay in his own box – Kelechi Iheanacho stole the ball and squared to his Algerian teammate who finished well.
Leicester threatened for the remaining half an hour, but never put Liverpool under too much pressure. Ultimately, Leicester will see this as a game they deserved at least a point from, but Liverpool will leave the stadium delighted with their early season form heading into the first international break.
Liverpool show they can grind out results
One of the biggest components of a title winning side is the ability to grind out results. The great Manchester United teams under Ferguson did it year after year, Mourinho’s Chelsea often won narrowly, Pep Guardiola’s City often got late winners to romp home to the title last season.
So far, albeit only four games into the season, Liverpool are showing they have that trait. Last week at home to Brighton, Klopp’s side were far from their best, but won narrowly. Today, Liverpool were poor, especially in the second half, but got the victory and maximum points.
This is far from a criticism of Liverpool. I am sure all Liverpool fans would admit they have been poor so far. But they have maximum points, with four wins in four. That is title winning form.
Leicester missed a few chances they would have felt they could’ve done better with, but The Foxes never really looked like equalising, despite being well worth a point.
It is too early to make rash predictions of who will win the league, or at least to change predictions from pre-season, but Liverpool are showing the one trait that has alluded them in the last decade.
Last season, they would’ve dropped points in one of the last two games, but Klopp’s men surged on and got maximum points at a tricky stadium. Hats off.
Maddison the pick of Puel’s Leicester
“In a midfield full of international talent, he [Maddison] ran the game” – Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports was full of praise for Leicester’s 21-year-old midfielder James Maddison after a brilliant performance today.
Gareth Southgate announced his England squad this Thursday for the UEFA Nations League fixtures against Spain and Switzerland. Rumours around the country spread that England’s heroic gaffer may have gave a call up to impressive youngsters such as James Maddison or Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund.
Southgate didn’t do this, but James Maddison surely can’t be far off the England squad.
Making his name at Norwich City, the exciting attacking midfielder earned plaudits for his goalscoring haul in the Championship last season, as he was the pick of a poor Canaries bunch.
Since his move to the East Midlands, Maddison has been extremely pleasing. He put in a good performance at Old Trafford in the season opener and was the star of the show for the home side today.
He has the knack all good midfielders have, of ghosting into positions and finding space in between the midfield and defence. There were a couple of times he opted to pass rather than shoot and maybe with a bit of confidence, Maddison would have scored today.
Maddison, who came through the ranks at Coventry, was the main attacking threat for Claude Puel’s side today – the future looks bright for Leicester.
Van Dijk is the best defender in the league (and future Liverpool captain)
An indicator of a good signing is when no one mentions the price six months down the line. When Liverpool won the long, dramatic race for Virgil Van Dijk in January, many questioned whether £75m was too much for the then Southampton defender.
A few weeks into the new season, that price does not get mentioned.
Already, Virgil Van Dijk is settling in at Liverpool and proving himself to be one of the best defenders in the world, and potentially the best in the league.
For sure, the Dutch international is the most well rounded of potential candidates: Vertonghen, Laporte, Azpilicueta, etc.
He is adequate on the ball and exceptional off it. When a cross comes into the box, Van Dijk is always the favourite to win the ball, which he did time and time again when Leicester put his side under extreme pressure towards the end.
With the young trio of Gomez, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson either side of him, Van Dijk is the leader and seems a shoe in for a future Liverpool captain, as he enters his peak years.
Leicester: Schmeichel 6; Pereira 6, Maguire 7, Morgan 6, Chilwell 7; Mendy 8, Ndidi 6; Ghezzal 6, Maddison 8 (MOTM), Albrighton 6; Gray 6.
As has been mentioned, James Maddison was the pick of the bunch for Leicester. Another promising performance was that of Nampalys Mendy. The young Frenchman struggled for form in his first year at Leicester, so was loaned to OGC Nice last season. Puel decided Mendy will play a key part of his side this year, and he has looked more than capable of doing so in the early weeks of the season, as he looks assured in the Leicester midfield.
The Foxes certainly missed Jamie Vardy today, as Demarai Gray struggled in an unfamiliar central role. Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench and linked the play perhaps better than Vardy does, as he dropped deep rather than looking to get in behind. Puel has a couple of handy options in the striker role, and Iheanacho’s performance off the bench will please him.
Liverpool: Alisson 4; Alexander-Arnold 5, Van Dijk 7, Gomez 7, Robertson 8; Milner 6, Wijnaldum 6, Henderson 6; Salah 6, Firmino 7, Mané 7.5.
It wasn’t a great afternoon for Liverpool by any means. Alisson Becker’s mistake could have costed Liverpool, whilst Trent Alexander-Arnold looked nervous on a few occasions too.
Andy Robertson, however, is developing into one of the best full backs in the division and proving he wasn’t just going through a purple patch of form in Liverpool’s Champions League run. The Scotsman looks solid at the back and offers a good outlet in attack. Robertson will be a key component of Liverpool’s team, should they go all the way this year.