Jurgen Klopp’s Reds slumped to an all too predictable defeat to Claudio Ranieri’s league leaders at the King Power Stadium, on a night that saw Liverpool undone by the same old issues.
A clinical brace from Jamie Vardy condemned Liverpool to a deserved defeat that ended any feint hopes of a charge for a top four place.
The Reds enjoyed large periods of control of the game in Leicestershire but were undone by the same old problems, which will cause Klopp a great deal of frustration.
Focus now fully turns to salvaging a miserable season to date with success in the three remaining cup competitions, and here are the talking points from Tuesday’s loss.
Reds’ Shooting Shambolic
Liverpool appeared to have started rediscovering accuracy in front of goal in their last league outing at Norwich, but it was a return to the same old shambolic shooting.
The Reds posted an embarrassing two shots on target – one of those being from Dejan Lovren – despite firing 14 efforts on the Foxes goal, one more than the ruthless home side managed as they showed Klopp’s men how it’s done.
Time and again strikes on goal were in vain – lacking precision, accuracy and conviction – giving Leicester stopper Kasper Schmeichel little to worry about, other than how far he had to chase to collect the ball.
Countless hits were blocked with Liverpool doing little to work a genuine shooting chance, and those that didn’t plough into a blue body instead flew harmlessly into the crowd, with Emre Can, Lucas, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino all producing some absolutely wild efforts.
It’s no wonder the Reds have struggled for goals with shooting as wayward and wild as Tuesday night.
Reds Lack Midfield Creativity
With a workman-like midfield deployed against Ranieri’s side, it came as no surprise the Reds were painfully short of creativity from the middle of the park.
For all their work-rate and endeavour, none of Lucas, Milner, Henderson or Can produced a telling pass or inventive piece of play, starving central pair Lallana and Firmino of any decent service, thus contributing to a toothless attack.
The Reds enjoyed 61% of possession, but penetrative passing was non-existent, and when in promising positions to cause danger execution from each midfielder was lacking, with passes under-hit or simply inaccurate, with intricate touches also lacking any remote quality.
Productivity from the quartet – one nice passage of play aside – was nowhere near good enough and the reason why Liverpool lacked a single clear cut chance on the night.
In all too predictable fashion, Liverpool’s defensive organisation was again a complete mess at the King Power Stadium.
The back-line were beaten too easily, failed to operate as a cohesive unit and lacked any sort of composure on or off the ball, visibly petrified by the pace the home side posed in attack.
The second goal summed it up perfectly, with Sakho failing to deal with the bouncing ball or clear lines, before a deflected shot fell the way of Vardy, who was played onside by Lovren dropping deeper rather than holding the line, to allow the England man to fire past the hapless Mignolet.
Failure to track runners and being beaten easily one-against-one almost saw Sakho give away a penalty on Shinji Okazaki, as the Reds simply lacked the basics of defending.
Improved Shot-Stopping Display from Simon Mignolet
The Belgian has been in woeful form recently and heavily criticised as a result, but he produced a welcome improved shot-stopping display.
In a first half that saw the home side limited to little in front of goal, the 27-year-old produced fantastic stops at key moments, pulling off a brilliant save at point-blank range from Okazaki’s header, before superbly turning Riyad Mahrez’s curling strike over the bar.
Mignolet did show his downside, going but failing to collect balls thrown and delivered into the box shortly after, forcing Sakho to hack away on the line, but he could do nothing about either of Vardy’s goals, beaten by a sensational early strike for the first and a clinical close range finish.
The Reds’ first choice has rightly been on the receiving end of vast negativity this season, but this was a night that he certainly can’t be blamed as he kept the score down.
Reds Over-Play as Chances Pass By
Despite shooting being appalling from long-range, the Reds inexplicably passed up good opportunities to fire at goal in dangerous positions.
“We had the ball in their box, but we didn’t shoot,” Klopp bemoaned post-match, as his side lacked the confidence to strike sharply and early – as Vardy did so emphatically down the other end.
Half chances came and went with Sakho and Lovren heading to each other rather than at goal in the first half, while Lallana turned back into trouble after initially escaping his marker in the second period to name a couple of examples.
Had Liverpool struck with the same directness and conviction as the Foxes, a very different evening may have played out.
LEICESTER 2–0 LIVERPOOL
Match Report: Lifeless Reds cut apart by Vardy brilliance
Player Ratings: Low scores all round on a poor night at the King Power Stadium