It would’ve been understandable, this week, for Liverpool FC Men to struggle. With a laundry list of injured players, including captain Jordan Henderson, no one would’ve faulted them for dropping points on Sunday. It wouldn’t have felt very good, that’s for sure, but no one would’ve said that we should’ve done better, because we all know that they would’ve done everything they could against a better prepared Leicester City side, with a rested and likely lethal Jamie Vardy.
There were even jokes going around earlier in the week, that Leicester would end Liverpool’s record breaking unbeaten run at home (in the league).
Thankfully, that is not what happened.
Thankfully, there was no usual post-international break slump. Even with the injuries - with our two first choice centerbacks injured for the rest of the season, with at least two important midfielders injured, with Mohamed Salah at home in coronavirus isolation.
Thankfully, none of those reasons, none of those set backs, truly set us back.
Leicester are a good day out. Last Boxing Day was pretty memorable, the way Liverpool easily sliced their way through the Foxes was arguably one of their best performances of the season. So of course we as fans would be looking for something similar — if we’d had a fully fit squad. Instead, we had James Milner coming back from injury to start at right back, Fabinho coming back from injury to play at center back with Joël Matip, 19 year old Curtis Jones starting in midfield with Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum, and Diogo Jota taking Salah’s place alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Which, to be fair, all seemed to work out. Liverpool played their pressing best and took total control in the first half, leaving Jamie Vardy hardly able to get a good touch on the ball. Curtis Jones proved that he belongs in that midfield, better than his years against a well organized and determined Leicester side. Even as the Foxes tried to target James Milner, and to be fair got away with it a couple times, our defense was ready to clean up whatever happened on that right side.
Roberto Firmino, our dear Bobby, should’ve had a hat trick. The woodwork denies him, goal line technology denies him, and finally finally his perfect head was able to find the ball in the perfect spot and he was able to get his first goal at home this season. Such has been his slump, such has been his selflessness this season that it was only his second goal in the league, and his first at Anfield. It would’ve been in front of a roaring Kop end, too.
That’s not even the first goal, either. The first goal was an own goal by former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, trying to clear it from a corner. It went the other way, and he put the Reds in the lead, twenty minutes in. Even he looked dumbfounded at how he did it, but if it had been at the other end, it would’ve surely been a goal for Leicester.
The second was Diogo Jota. Scoring in his first four games in the league for Liverpool, consecutively - the first in Liverpool history. Record breakers, the Reds continue to be. He now has 8 goals across all competitions for Liverpool, after our 9th league match. An incredible achievement and he has continued to prove himself such a player that the team needs to fight for the future competitions.
This match was fun. It was entertaining and intense, as each player pressed within an inch of their life - on both sides. Liverpool proved why they are the champions, why they may remain champions at the end of the season (god, we can only hope). Even the chances that Leicester did have were dealt with easily and without much fuss. They were never really and truly caught out, and when they were Allison was there to mop up the mess.
It was a good win, certainly not an easy one. But as other teams crumble, as Liverpool add to the list of names in the physio rooms, a good win is necessary. It’s achievable, and it sends a message to the rest of the league, and the rest of the tournaments that we may be depleted but we are not weak. We will find new ways to press you further and further away from our areas, and we will get what we want somehow.
64 home games in the league - unbeaten. Intensity and no signs of slowing down - at the moment anyway. The Reds now face Atalanta midweek in the Champions League and then Adam Lallana with Brighton & Hove Albion early on Saturday the 28th. The Women’s team do not return from their break until December 6th.