Before Leicester City’s trip to Anfield for a Matchday 21 fixture versus Liverpool, the Foxes knew they would have to play stout defense in order to come away with at least one point from the match, let alone three. Coming into the contest only two clubs in the top five European Leagues had scored more league goals than Liverpool’s 46 this season: Manchester City (61) and Paris Saint-Germain (58).
The good news for Leicester is that Liverpool’s defense is almost as bad as its offense. No team in the top five of the Premier League has conceded as many goals as Liverpool heading into today’s match (23).
It didn’t take long for Jamie Vardy to add to that total.
After an errant pass by Joel Matip in the third minute of the match was intercepted by Vicente Iborra, the midfielder quickly found Riyad Mahrez in the box, who used his first touch to find Vardy. The striker quickly capitalized to score his ninth league goal of the season.
But the goal-scoring threat from Liverpool was definitely there, and the challenge of stopping it was made even more difficult with the absence of Danny Simpson. The full-back suffered a hamstring injury in the match versus Manchester United and will miss a few weeks. Simpson was replaced in the lineup by Daniel Amartey.
After Vardy scored to give Leicester the lead, Liverpool went on the attack for the remainder of the half. On a Mohamed Salah breakaway in the 11th minute Harry Maguire tracked back to make a
£100M £12.3M defensive stop on the league’s second highest goal scorer (15).
Sadio Mane appeared to break through for Liverpool in the 19th minute, but his goal was disallowed as the winger was offside. One minute later Salah was again in the box, but a combination of Christian Fuchs and Kasper Schmeichel left Salah with too difficult an angle to convert.
The rest of the chances in the half belonged to the Reds as Liverpool were definitely the club on the front foot. During Liverpool’s barrage Amartey proved his worth in the starting lineup stopping both a Philipe Coutinho run (and winning a goal kick) and a Mane run in the span of two minutes. The half ended with Liverpool dominating possession (61.8% - 38.2%) and shots/on goal (11/3 – 3/1). Yet despite constant threats from the opposition, Leicester City found themselves up 1 – 0 at the half.
There were no changes to either side to start the second half. There were also no changes to Liverpool’s plan of attack. It only took 62 seconds for the Reds to win their first corner of the half, but Leicester were able to make the clearance. Despite another successful set-piece defense, it seemed only a matter of time before Liverpool would break through. In the 52nd minute Salah did just that.
1-1. You’d have to say it’s been coming and it’s Salah— Fosse Posse (@TheFossePosse) December 30, 2017
The action didn’t stop after the ball found the back of the net as Emre Can tussled with Maguire over the ball. Both received yellow cards for their actions.
In the 65th minute Mane again found the back of the net and again the goal was disallowed due to the player being offside. Shortly after Leicester had a good spell of possession and finally managed to earn their first corner in the 68th minute of the match. Unfortunately the Foxes were unable to convert.
Manager Claude Puel made his first two changes in the 73rd minute of the match, as Shinji Okazaki replaced Mahrez, and Islam Slimani replaced Vardy. While this did provide a bit of a spark to Leicester’s lineup, it was Liverpool who struck next.
In the 76th minute Salah again scored after forcing his way past Maguire, giving Liverpool the lead at 1 – 2.
Puel used his last substitution to bring Matty James in for Marc Albrighton. It was the first match action for James since September 9th.
Despite increasing both their possession and number of shots in the second half, Leicester City were unable to equalize and fell to Liverpool 1 – 2. The Foxes have now lost two league matches in a row and will look to rebound against Huddersfield on New Year’s Day.