Leicester City fell to Liverpool by a score of 2-0 at Anfield on Thursday evening. Diogo Jota scored a goal in each half and the Foxes managed just a single shot on goal over the entire match. There’s not a lot more to say about it, not that I’m going to let that stop me from doing exactly that.
Leicester are having a bad season, but it's weirdly a sign of progress now that a "bad season" for Leicester is finishing midtable. Not long ago that a bad season would've been relegation.— Grace Robertson ️⚧️ (@GraceOnFootball) February 10, 2022
While this is technically correct, it’s not much comfort given the last two performances.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was “embarrassed” by the performance against Forest on Sunday, so there were always going to be changes made: Kasper Schmeichel (C), James Justin, Daniel Amartey, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas, Marc Albrighton, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Boubakary Soumare, James Maddison, Ademola Lookman, and Patson Daka.
The first twenty minutes of the match were relatively uneventful, which represented a welcome change from Sunday. Liverpool dominated possession but managed only one Trent Alexander-Arnold shot on goal. The Foxes weren’t any more threatening, with only a Madders shot requiring Alisson’s attention, but it was pretty comfortable overall.
It is, however, never comfortable when City concede a corner. Alexander-Arnold’s cross found an unmarked Virgil van Dijk who, all things considered, is one of the worst people one could leave unmarked. His header was parried by Schmeichel but only as far as Diogo Jota, who bundled home from close range. It marked the 10th goal Leicester have allowed from a corner in the league this year which is impressive in a “do we not work on this on the training ground?” sort of way.
Things got hectic after that, which honestly, was a good thing. Liverpool looked to widen their advantage and poured forward, which was terrifying but also risked leaving space at the back. Neither team was able to add to the tally before the halftime whistle, but it was entertaining. We didn’t look especially like getting back into the game, but we didn’t give up another quick goal to put the match out of reach.
The half started with both sides unchanged. Unsurprisingly, the run of play was much like at the start of the first half as well. While this was satisfactory from a “not getting blown out standpoint”, the equaliser wasn’t getting any closer and time was in the hosts’ favour.
On the hour, Rodgers made his first moves, sending Youri Tielemans and Kelechi Iheanacho into the fray and hauling off Daka and Soumare. While this helped Leicester retain the ball, the next great chance of the match fell to the Reds. A disastrous pass by Dewsbury-Hall found substitute Mo Salah, who had a free run on goal. Schmeichel did remarkably well to save it. There was some hint that a penalty might be given for Amartey clattering into him after the shot and, while it wouldn’t have been unjustified, you never see them given when the attacker gets a clean shot off.
With fifteen minutes to go, Rodgers made another change, swapping Lookman for Harvey Barnes. Even though it was essentially like-for-like, this resulted in a change to a 4-4-2 with Barnes up top and Madders at the top of a diamond midfield. City looked slightly more like scoring, but worryingly, more like conceding as well. Kasper was having a blinder but there’s only so much he can do.
The Reds finally doubled their advantage four minutes from time. It was chaos in the box, with two Foxes trying to play the ball out of defence rather than clearing it and both times Liverpool winning it back. It fell to Joel Matip, who nutmegged Ndidi to find Jota in front of the net. He poached a second from short range, with Schmeichel getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out.
2-0 and game over. #LCFC make a pig's ear of clearing their lines and Jota gets his second. Barnes loses possession midway in the half and then Albrighton has a chance to clear too. Shame because this has been a much-improved display against one of the best sides in the world.— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) February 10, 2022
This is where a much hipper writer would use the Thor “Was it though?” meme.
That was that. We won a late corner but never looked like breaching a Liverpool defence that seemed to be everywhere.
The level of defensive effort looked improved from the FA Cup loss to Forest, but the numbers don’t really back that up. City had only 35% of the possession and managed only 5 shots with just a single effort on-target. Liverpool took 22 shots and put 11 of them on frame, suggesting that maybe it was more down to the goalkeeper than anything else. If the focus was on shoring up the defence, I’m not sure we can claim this as a success.
That said, I believe I owe Daniel Amartey an apology. He was dire in the Cup but he put in a fine showing today and was probably our best outfield player. The competition for this honour wasn’t especially fierce, but credit where it’s due: He did the job today.
The defeat leaves us on 26 points from 21 matches, which is good enough for 12th on the table. It gives me no joy to report that we are one point closer to Norwich City in the relegation zone than we are to Spurs for the Europa Conference League or whatever it’s called. We square up against West Ham at the King Power on Sunday, and then we host Randers in that same Europa Conference League in one week.