Liverpool 3-0 Leicester – Player RatingsEmbed from Getty Images
Coming into the fixture following the international break, most of the discussion had been about how Jurgen Klopp’s depleted side would cope against a Leicester team who’d won their last 6 in all competitions and were looking to bounce back to the top of the league after Tottenham climbed above them with a victory on Saturday.
However, it wasn’t to be for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes. Despite missing the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Mo Salah, among others, Liverpool produced something reminiscent of their insufferable best. With a Jonny Evans OG and goals from Diogo Jota and Bobby Firmino, the side controlled the game from the first whistle to the last and, most importantly, put themselves 2 points ahead of their Premiership rivals and level with Spurs at the top of the table.
Much had been said about the defensive capabilities of Klopp’s side since the start of the new season but last night those queries were quashed somewhat as Liverpool kept a clean sheet in the Premiership for the first time since beating Chelsea 2-0 in gameweek two.
In beating Leicester last night, Liverpool set a new club record, going 64 consecutive unbeaten games at home in top-flight football.
Meanwhile, Rodgers has work to do if he’s to get his side back on track in their pursuit of their 2nd Premier League title. The Foxes hadn’t conceded three in a game since losing 3-0 to Spurs at the back-end of last season, and it’s the first time since losing to Villa in October that they hadn’t been able to bag a goal.
As desperate as it was for Leicester, there were some glimpses of promise but overall, the performance just wasn’t good enough.
Here are the player ratings from last night’s fixture…Embed from Getty Images
Alisson Becker – 8
Alisson didn’t have much to do in the Liverpool net but what he did do when called upon, the Brazilian keeper was accurate and made very few errors. His biggest moment came when preventing both Vardy and Barnes (in the follow-up) from putting the ball into the net – regardless of whether VAR would have intervened afterwards had something come of the chance, when called into action, he did exactly what the job description asks of him.
James Milner – 8.5
James Milner is an unsung hero in many people’s eyes and last night he cemented that impression with a fabulous performance. He’s 34 years old now but put up a display as energetic as a man in the prime of his life, making crunching tackles as well as exquisite through balls, both at full-back and when moved into the middle, where it felt like he had a little bit less of an impact but continued to play at a high tempo with admirable consistency. A seriously high-quality performance from the skipper, polished with an assist for Firmino.Embed from Getty Images
Joel Matip – 8
Matip has suffered from injuries and having fallen out of favour behind Joe Gomez this season, question marks arose over how well he’d perform on his return to the side but having played well in the 1-1 draw with City, the hopes were high. With the change of personnel at the back, Matip stepped up to the task again, himself and Fabinho successfully preventing Vardy from doing any kind of damage and as a result were deservedly rewarded with the clean sheet.
Fabinho – 8
It was also a return to the side for Fabinho who again showed his versatility, reverting to centre-half duties to fill in for the injured Van Dijk and Gomez. It was another proficient display for the Brazilian, who, with Matip, kept Vardy quiet for the whole game which is something that few sides can say so far this season. I’d be surprised if the partnership were to be changed much if at all in the coming weeks.
Andy Robertson – 8
Andy Robertson started a tad slowly misplacing the odd pass, however, the Scotsman quickly warmed up to the task and it wasn’t long before he resumed his usual antics of bombing up and down the left-hand side. The full-back also notched his assist, beating his man before lifting an inviting ball into the box for Jota to redirect home. Since his Liverpool debut in the 2017/18 season, only Kevin De Bruyne (41) has registered more assists than Robertson (31).Embed from Getty Images
Curtis Jones – 8
Curtis Jones has quickly acclimatised to the pace of the Premiership and since rising to the first team ranks, has left the impression that he’s more than capable of regularly rotating into the starting 11 – an opinion that was only strengthened by last night’s performance. Jones was composed on the ball and represented a major threat going forward, almost putting his side ahead in the early stages of the game if not for the planted leg of Kasper Schmeichel. Beyond that, he also demonstrated a nice range of passing in various passages of play to keep the ball rolling; a rounded performance from the young scouser.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7
Wijnaldum contributed with another typical workhorse performance, doing his bit to clear up in the middle while also getting stuck in when moving the ball in and around the Leicester box. Wasn’t the most testing game he’ll ever have with the opponent underperforming, but it was an important role, nevertheless.
Naby Keita – 6.5
Keita had an opportunity to project himself as a centre-attacking-midfielder to be fearful of last night but failed to glow – a recurring theme in his Liverpool career. In the past, he has shown that he’s capable of running at players and threading passes, pinning defences back on the edge of their own penalty areas but last night was a basic performance from the number 8. There was very little wrong with the display, but the Guinean was by no means electric either. Keita came off injured early in the second half.
Diogo Jota – 8.5
Jota has only been at the club for a very short period, with comparatively little game time to his teammates but has already established himself as one of the most lethal attacking players in the Premiership, notching his 4th goal in as many starts for the club. The Portuguese youngster always looks capable of bagging a goal and did so again in epic fashion, drifting inside Christian Fuchs before latching onto the end of a Robertson cross and redirecting the ball back past Schmeichel. He looked capable of getting more too, with his quick feet and rapid change of pace, he caused the Leicester defence multiple problems and looks a very dependable and exciting acquisition for the ‘red men’.Embed from Getty Images
Roberto Firmino – 8.5
Firmino has been the subject of lots of criticism on the socials recently regarding his lack of goals with some precarious excuses floating around as to why he doesn’t get anywhere near as many goals as his contemporaries but last night he was finally able to silence his peers – for how long though, who’s to say? With two efforts bouncing back off the crossbar and one ricochet being cleared off the line, Firmino was finally able to break his goalscoring hoodoo, leaping highest to head a James Milner corner into the far bottom corner. But his performance was just as joyous to watch because of his contributions outside of the penalty area, both in his movement and work-rate off the ball, and the skill he demonstrated in retaining the ball were superb and it was a display that fully deserved a higher rating.Embed from Getty Images
Sadio Mane – 7.5
Despite failing to get a goal himself, Sadio Mane was up to his usual tricks, scaring the life out of Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans with his raw pace and skill. In doing so, the Senegalese winger helped to keep the Leicester back line pinned back on the edge of their own penalty area and allowed the Liverpool domination to continue. Mane did have chances throughout the game but struggled to get the ball beyond Schmeichel. He was by no means at his best last night but put up a strong performance, nevertheless.
Neco Williams – 6
Neco Williams was making a return to Premier League action when coming on in the second half for Naby Keita (54th minute) and acquitted himself well, producing a basic performance in assisting his side to get the result over the line.
Takumi Minamino – 5
Replaced Mane in the 89th minute and never got any real opportunity to leave his mark on the game.
Divock Origi – 5
Came on for Jota in the 89th minute for the final moments of the game and never got the chance to make an impact on the game.
Kasper Schmeichel – 6.5
It’s always difficult to give a positive review about a keeper who conceded as many as he did last night, however, the Danish shot-stopper did a fair amount to suppress the Reds’ onslaught. Liverpool recorded 24 shots with 13 of them hitting the target and with an xG (expected goals) of 3.77 it was almost inevitable that he’d be picking at least 1 ball out of the net. Schmeichel prevented more than a handful of attempts on goal, keeping his side in the tie for a lot longer than it could have been and deserves some credit for his performance.Embed from Getty Images
Wesley Fofana – 4
Wesley Fofana has acquitted himself exceptionally well since joining the Premiership, however, last night he and his teammates were undone by some well-crafted passages of play, and some silky footwork from Firmino. He started strongly, carrying the ball well and imposing himself on the game but the back four were exposed as a unit and it was a night to forget for the young defender, getting beaten by Mane and Firmino too easily on a few occasions. There will be better days to come for the Frenchman.
Jonny Evans – 3
A player who’s received his fair share of plaudits since joining Leicester, it was also a night to forget. The Northern Irish centre-half accidentally nodded the ball beyond his own keeper just outside the 20-minute mark and struggled to keep up with the pace of his opponents on several occasions, often finding himself the ‘wrong side’ of his man. Capable of much better.Embed from Getty Images
Christian Fuchs – 4
Struggled to handle the speed of his opponents, losing both Jones and Jota on several occasions, with the latter eventually capitalising on an opportunity when accelerating beyond Fuchs and nodding in past Schmeichel. On a positive note, he did make a goal-line clearance after Mane’s shot was palmed by Schmeichel looping back towards the net but was otherwise exposed. The Austrian was replaced after the hour mark.
Youri Tielemans – 4
Tielemans had a fruitful international spell, however, last night he failed to meet his usual standards. Very rarely involved in any attacking plays and exposed when defending, not close enough to his man and despite being okay in possession, didn’t provide much for the outfit going forward.
Nampalys Mendy – 4
Played a very similar role to his teammate Tielemans, exposed by the Liverpool side when trying to stop attacking passages of play. Both players capable of a lot more than they demonstrated last night and you’d want to see a lot more from them in trying to win the midfield battle.
Marc Albrighton – 4
Typically workmanlike but has nothing to show for it. Biggest impact was when clearing Firmino’s ricocheted effort off the line but elsewhere struggled to make an impact on the game.
James Justin – 5.5
He’s developed a bit of a reputation for causing trouble going forward and did give Alisson a scare when searching for an equaliser. He broke down the left and cut in before taking aim at goal, but he saw his effort curl wide of the mark. Arguably wasn’t used as much as he could’ve been but that sums up their lacklustre performance.Embed from Getty Images
James Maddison – 5
Every time Maddison picks up the ball in the opposition’s half you are waiting for him to do something with it, half expecting something a little bit special. Last night though, he struggled to meet those lofty expectations. He still drove at players, playing for free kicks in dangerous areas, but overall, his efforts very rarely amounted to much. For a player of his quality, you’d hope for much more.Embed from Getty Images
Harvey Barnes – 4.5
Harvey Barnes was involved in two of Leicester’s best chances, with his best chance being an opportunity to equalise through a cutback from Vardy but Barnes opened his body up too much and fired wide of the far post. His pace and energy are always something to be wary of but the attacking midfielder struggled to cause the Liverpool back four any problems throughout the first half and was consequently subbed off after the hour mark.
Jamie Vardy – 4.5
Vardy had scored 7 goals against the Reds, and 3 goals in his last 3 appearances for Leicester and so was once again forecast to be the Foxes’ main threat going forward in a potentially very open tie. However, the 33-year-old number 9 failed to disrupt the Liverpool defence in what was a disappointing performance. The service into him wasn’t really there but when he did get into relatively good areas, the forward failed to punish the Reds and despite being responsible for the cutback in their best chance, he was nothing like his best.Embed from Getty Images
Dennis Praet – 4
With the Foxes first half performance, you’d have hoped bringing Praet in would give the side a boost and help to stage a comeback when coming on in the 62nd minute, but the Belgian didn’t make any really positive impression on the game in the half hour or so that he was on for.
Cengiz Ünder – 4
As a potentially very useful winger coming on in the 62nd minute, Leicester fans would’ve been hopeful that this young Turk could cause some havoc but his impression on the game was minimal. With it being only his 4th appearance since joining on loan from Roma, he’s clearly still finding his feet and should get time to develop under Rodgers but he’ll have to if he wants to be a regular in their side. On an added note, he could have done a lot better for the 3rd goal having lost Firmino in the box, finding himself the wrong side and producing a pretty pathetic attempt at stopping the Brazilian from heading the ball into the net.Embed from Getty Images
What happens next?
Liverpool look to make it 4 wins from 4 games and ensure their progression to the knockout stages in the Champions League when hosting Atalanta at Anfield on Wednesday night, while Leicester have the chance bounce back and extend their unbeaten record in Europe this season when they take a trip to Portugal on Thursday evening to play S.C. Braga in the Europa League.