The good, the bad and the week ahead – Debating Liverpool 3-0 Leicester
There were positives galore to take from Liverpool’s 3-0 win at home to Leicester, with individuals excelling and the team thriving.
The Reds were expected to be tested by an in-form Foxes outfit on Sunday, but there was only ever one side in it at Anfield.
Former Man United man Jonny Evans scored a comical own goal to put Liverpool in front before Diogo Jota made it 2-0 before half-time.
Roberto Firmino completed the scoring late in the day, as Jurgen Klopp‘s champions drew level with Premier League leaders Tottenham.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) are joined by Liam Togher (@liamtogher88) to discuss the good and the bad from Liverpool’s win and the starting lineups for the week ahead.
HENRY: There was some trepidation going into the game, but the manner of Liverpool’s victory, and performance, was magnificent.
This team is incredible at overcoming obstacles and silencing the doubters and this felt like a major statement of intent.
Liverpool were strong in every department, with Joel Matip and Fabinho imperious at centre-back, and James Milner and Andy Robertson equally brilliant either side of them.
In midfield, Curtis Jones stood out the most, producing such a mature showing. He is only 19, which is mad!
Jota was again unplayable at times and took his header superbly – he genuinely looks like scoring in every single game at the moment.
A word of praise for Firmino, too, who played much better than he has of late, and FINALLY got his goal. That was a lovely moment and you could see how much it meant to him and his teammates.
MATT: Henry’s covered pretty much all of it there, to be honest!
One thing Matip can do is produce those long, breaking passes that switch play to a full-back, which is something Van Dijk specialises in. That would be nice to see more of.
Jones for me was a concern going into this one but he was superb, very mature, composed performance and doing the less glamorous side of things well. He’s developing very well.
LIAM: Lots of positives. Given the volume of injuries and form of the opposition, this was perhaps Liverpool’s best Premier League performance of the season so far.
Even with two midfielders playing in the back four, the Reds looked stoic at the back and barely gave Jamie Vardy a sniff.
Milner and Fabinho showed why they are such valuable players to have in the squad, while Robertson was at his effervescent best, particularly with that peach of a cross for Jota’s goal.
The zero beside Leicester’s name will also be a massive feather in Klopp’s cap, given that we hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the league since the win at Chelsea two months ago. Even when Leicester had a spell of pressure in the second half shortly before the third goal, the Reds stood admirably firm.
Like Henry, I must also give credit to Firmino for the persistence which enabled him to eventually get the goal his performance deserved.
It would have been easy for his head to drop after having no joy with two big chances, especially given the flak he had taken in recent weeks, before he ultimately got on the scoresheet to cap a hugely satisfying win.
HENRY: It was a night when the positives easily outweighed the negatives, but it is hard to look past Naby Keita‘s injury as a low point.
He was playing so well, working his socks off and making incisive runs and passes, before the injury curse struck yet again.
It is now becoming a real concern with him – every time he shows signs of finding his feet, he spends another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Otherwise, it was an almost-perfect evening, with VAR not even going against Liverpool for once!
MATT: It was quite frustrating that we allowed Keita to head off on international duty when he was just returning from a month out and then he was over-played by Guinea yet again. It’s a farce how Liverpool are constantly covering for Guinea’s mismanagement of the player.
Other than that, nothing bad whatsoever.
LIAM: I’m happy to say that this will be a short one.
The only real negative, as the guys mentioned, was Keita having to go off injured, having just forged his way back into the starting XI, particularly at a time when our treatment room is already overflowing.
In his third season at the club, the Guinean still can’t get a properly prolonged run in the side, and the emergence of Jones this year won’t help his cause.
Other than that, I would have to be woefully pedantic to add anything further to this section.
And lineups for the week ahead…
HENRY: Liverpool are all but through in the Champions League, so we have to see some rotation used in the Atalanta game.
The fixtures are simply too relentless not to change things up at the moment, especially given the injuries the Reds have.
I would bring in Rhys Williams and Kostas Tsimikas, for starters – Andy Robertson HAS to have a breather – while Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi should start in attack, perhaps alongside the returning Mohamed Salah.
At Brighton, I expect Klopp to go with similar to the Leicester game, potentially with Salah coming in and a 4-2-3-1 formation used, allowing him to play Sadio Mane, Jota and Firmino as well.
With Keita out, that would mean a double pivot of Gini Wijnaldum and Jones, should Jordan Henderson and Thiago still be absent.
MATT: We have to rotate a little bit (where possible!) against Atalanta.
Like Henry says, surely Kostas gets a game and Robertson a rest. We’re asking for trouble if not.
No doubt Neco Williams starts on Wednesday, so maybe keep the same centre-back pairing and try to get them building a solid relationship, but then that’s a delicate balance with Matip’s injury record and playing him three times in a week…
I’d probably look to rest Mane if Salah is indeed back for Wednesday.
LIAM: Even if there is a chance that Salah and Rhys Williams could be fit enough to feature on Wednesday night, I wouldn’t be inclined to start either given our strong position in the Champions League group.
Keita’s injury could see Milner revert to midfield given the sparsity of options in that area, with Neco Williams coming in at right-back and Fabinho maintaining his central defensive partnership with Joel Matip.
Assuming we get through the Atalanta game without any further setbacks a – big if, given how this season has gone – Saturday could then be the time to bring Salah back into the front-three if he’s good to go, giving one of the others a timely breather.
Milner could also come back in for that game to do a job wherever Klopp feels he would be the best fit – it could be a welcome luxury to swap out Wijnaldum or Jones, especially until Jordan Henderson and Thiago are good to feature again.