The good, the bad and top-four chances – Debating Leicester 3-1 Liverpool

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A third defeat in a row has left Liverpool supporters despairing, with the Reds’ tag as “Mentality Monsters” looking lost during their 3-1 defeat to Leicester.

The Premier League champions were beaten by the Foxes on Saturday, despite Mohamed Salah‘s superb opener giving them a second-half lead.

Just when it seemed as though Liverpool may be on the road to recovery, Leicester scored three quickfire goals in seven minutes, aided by VAR and yet more individual errors.

The loss leaves even a top-four finish under threat, with the Reds’ hopes of retaining the title now well and truly over.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined in all-TIA affair by James Nalton (@JDNalton) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) to discuss Liverpool’s latest setback and their hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League.

 

The good…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 13, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson looks dejected after Leicester City score the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City won 3-1. (Pic by Propaganda)

JAMES: The mere presence of a natural, highly-rated centre-back in the defensive line was a positive and there’s no reason for Liverpool not to go with two central defenders in defence from now on.

Trent-Alexander-Arnold put in a promising display – one which at times raised the possibility of him being useful in midfield at this moment in time.

One of his passes, in particular, was something you might expect to see from Thiago.

With Fabinho back fit and back in midfield – hopefully soon – Liverpool should have a different, more solid look about them.

HENRY: I totally agree with James that simply having a proper centre-back playing made a difference for much of the game, regardless of what happened with him and Alisson.

Equally, I echo his sentiments that Trent was good on the whole, as was Andy Robertson on the opposite flank. Both had more energy than in recent weeks.

Mohamed Salah‘s goal was an absolute beauty, whether it be because of Roberto Firmino‘s flick or the Egyptian’s deft finish – what a shame that it will now be swiftly forgotten about.

Salah is four goals clear at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, which is madness, considering Liverpool’s woes. He is some footballer.

Finally, Liverpool’s performance for 70 minutes was actually pretty good – the result shouldn’t make that meaningless. Then they imploded.

MATT: I can’t imagine Fabinho will be playing in midfield any time soon, certainly not this season. I fully expect one of Henderson or Fabinho will be in defence for the rest of the season.

The performance was a lot better for such a long period. It looked possible for a 1-0, cleansheet, up to third. But that is not how this season goes is it.

 

The bad…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 13, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara and captain Jordan Henderson speak with referee Anthony Taylor during a VAR decision for a penalty during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

JAMES: It was a performance littered with defensive mistakes and lack of organisation at the back.

From Thiago‘s reckless tackle to Alisson‘s failed intervention, the individual errors are a result of uncertainty throughout the defence in the absence of key players.

Henderson started very well with the ball, but for a player who is there, according to Klopp, more for his experience and organisational skills, these things were sorely lacking at the back as demonstrated by each of Leicester’s three goals.

HENRY: The manner of the capitulation was all too predictable sadly – at 1-0, I just knew the Reds weren’t going to win.

I’ve essentially been turned from a doubter to a believer, and back to a doubter again! The players are performing like that too, looking at the way they fell apart mentally.

Thiago‘s tackle was completely brainless and annoyed me more than any moment in the game – he was poor in general, but maybe wasn’t fully fit, it should be stressed.

The miscommunication between Alisson and Ozan Kabak was woeful and the general end product was sorely lacking, aside from Salah’s goal.

VAR also deserves a shoutout. I have no doubts that James Maddison’s goal would’ve been ruled out against ANY other team.

Liverpool are cursed on all fronts this season – we just have to suck it up and wait for August.

MATT: For a second week in a row, a midfield change resulted in the opponent scoring three times in the next 15 minutes. No wonder we were so open.

But despite the errors, I can’t blame any person in particular, this season is just the perfect storm of problems and there is no end in sight any time soon.

 

And is a top-four finish in doubt?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 13, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and Leicester City's Jamie Vardy after the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City won 3-1. (Pic by Propaganda)

JAMES: In last week’s talking points I mentioned that Liverpool’s focus has switched from title challenge to top-four finish, but I still expected them to be solidifying a place in the top four rather than chasing one.

At the end of this round of fixtures, they could be very much part of the chasing pack.

Once focus moves away from a title challenge, a top-four finish isn’t always guaranteed. Finishing outside the Champions League spots seemed unimaginable last year, but it is now a real possibility.

Hopefully, this will be enough of a wake-up call to spark a turnaround in fortunes.

HENRY: I’m with James. I’ve gone from having no concerns about Liverpool being in the top four to worrying about it now. That felt big today.

They look a team devoid of confidence at the moment and are in such a ‘when it rains, it pours’ situation you feel something major will go wrong every game.

I still think they will get Champions League football, in fairness, but it’s going to be a hell of a grind.

MATT: If the teams below us win their games in hand, we’d be ninth. That’s a major worry.

But I do still feel like we’ve got enough to get the top four place. We’re capable of putting a half-decent run together and believe we will once we get some consistency in terms of team selection back again, and one or two key players back from injury.

It will be close, and I can’t believe we’ve already got the point where we want Man City to win to do us a favour.

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