Five talking points from Liverpool’s vital win at Leicester

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Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool recorded back to back victories for only the second time this season as the Reds continue on the road to recovery. Ben Twelves outlines where the Reds went wrong and succeeded on a positive but tricky night.

Leicester City 1 –3 Liverpool
King Power Stadium, Tuesday 2nd December

Liverpool continued their mini-revival on Tuesday night with a second successive win – this time by a 3-1 score-line against bottom of the league Leicester City.

After falling behind to an unfortunate rebound off the post that hit Simon Mignolet before heading into the net, Rodgers’ side responded just four minutes later thanks to Adam Lallana’s crisp strike which brought the Reds level and saw the scores equal at half time.

A far from pretty but battling second half display – which saw the home side reduced to 10 men – was topped off with strikes from Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson who sealed the successive win with a goal seven minutes from time to end the contest.

It was a tough fixture for Rodgers’ men against a workman-like Foxes team and the performance still provides plenty of talking points.

So what worked well and what didn’t for The Reds?

 

Skrtel’s Sloppiness

The Slovakian centre back – who somehow remains as Rodgers’s first choice central defender – endured another dreadful night as he continues in a poor patch of form, and there was very little positive about his performance.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 4, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Martin Skrtel during a training session at Melwood Training Grounds ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An unnerving presence in the middle of the back four, Skrtel was rash throughout the night, and was unsettled in possession all game, constantly caught the wrong side of the ball being too eager to win his duel, demonstrated zero anticipation as well as failing to clear his lines convincingly on numerous occasions leading to more unwanted and needless pressure.

With defensive partner Kolo Toure continuing to help assist Liverpool’s upturn in fortunes and Mamadou Sakho closing in on a return to match action, Skrtel’s place in the team should come under serious consideration.

 

Creativity Concern

While Liverpool have returned to Merseyside with the all-important three points in the bag, Rodgers’ side managed to win the match despite carving out very few chances until the game swung in their favour.

The Reds created only one opportunity in the first half, and had put themselves 2-1 in front without creating either of the goals themselves – instead with both goals coming via two poor defensive clearances from Morgan – who endured a miserable night.

Of the three goals scored on the night, Liverpool claim only one assist which came for Jordan Henderson’s match-sealing effort following a clever reverse back-heel from the lively Raheem Sterling, who was on the receiving end of some rough treatment from Richie De Laet but was given next to nothing from the abysmal Lee Mason.

Liverpool struggled throughout to find any rhythm or link up play in a disjointed attack consisting of ageing legs and an over reliance on the 19-year-old Sterling and while the goal count looks positive, there’s still genuine cause for concern.

 

Lucas and Henderson Marshall Midfield

It was far from a vintage Liverpool performance, but the Reds quietly went about aspects of their business on the night – including winning the midfield battle thanks to the Brazilian and vice-captain.

An outcast for most of the season before returning to record three straight starts, Lucas – while still at times conceding unnecessary fouls – mopped up well in the centre of the park for the most part alongside the calming but dominant influence that was Henderson.

Both players harassed their Leicester counterparts and condensed their play well – allowing them little space and time before winning the ball back and moving it quickly in an attempt to spark some attacking creativity.

There was nothing particularly spectacular about either of the midfielder’s performances – but as the Reds continue to try to drag themselves out the rut, both once again produced solid and reliable performances for their improving side.

 

Legless Lambert

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 4, 2014: Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Such has been the lack of options and summer signing’s recent form that he has kept his place and recorded four starts out of the last four games completing 90 minutes in the process in all of them – and tonight it showed.

The Liverpool fan was off the pace all evening, looking tired, and he struggled to have an impact on the game – getting caught off-side on five separate occasions – outside of the persistent shutting down of Wes Morgan who then hauled the England striker to the floor and was sent off.

The £4million signing lacked a goal threat with his touch often alluding him on the confidence boosting night, and the 32-year-old clearly tired having made the extreme move from being an underused member of the squad to overused in the space of a week-and-a-half.

 

Resilient Reds

Liverpool once again looked uncomfortable and uncertain defensively throughout, but importantly the back four stood up to the challenge on a demanding night – just.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 2, 2014: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva in action against Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez during the Premier League match at Filbert Way. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coming under pressure from seven of corners and numerous balls lofted into the box, the job of defending was largely done – even if it was ugly viewing – and where previously we have seen too many times a Red back four crumble under the pressure, the defence this time stood firm for the majority.

The positive result was also the first time that Liverpool have won this season after falling behind and while it’s a feat not worth replicating too often, a character building come-back can only inspire confidence throughout a fragile squad.

Back-to-back wins means Liverpool must take confidence into Saturday’s winnable clash against Sunderland, before a win-or-bust European tie against Basel next Tuesday night.

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