Leicester City fell to Liverpool by a score of 3-0 at the King Power on Monday afternoon. A first-half brace by Curtis Jones gave the Reds an insurmountable lead at the break. Trent Alexander-Arnold added a free kick in the second half to close out the scoring.
Manager Dean Smith had a couple of new injuries to work around with neither Danny Ward nor Çağlar Söyüncü on the bench. Nonetheless, the gaffer was able to field a formidable side for this latest of many “most important match of the season” matches: Daniel Iversen, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans (C), Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne, Boubakary Soumare, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The match started at a breakneck pace with the Foxes pressing everything and making life miserable for the visiting Reds. Leicester struggled to create anything, but so did their opponents. Referee Craig Pawson blew for seven fouls against the Merseyside side, but City weren’t able to make any of the set pieces pay.
Leicester had a golden opportunity to take an early lead when Madders found Barnes in acres of space vacated by the itinerant Trent Alexander-Arnold. He took a touch or two too many before finding Vardy’s diagonal run. The striker was quickly closed down by Alisson, who smothered the close-range effort when it looked as though there would be a real chance to score.
After half an hour without any threat whatsoever, Liverpool took the lead in a fashion all too familiar to City fans. Faes failed to deal with Alisson’s long ball over the top, losing out to Luis Diaz. The ball fell to Jordan Henderson, who found Curtis Jones’ far post run behind Soumare. The midfielder was left with the simplest of tap-ins to put the Foxes in a world of hurt. VAR took a long look at Diaz’s position when Alisson released the ball, but Evans played him just on.
Less than three minutes later, the hole the Foxes had dug for themselves was a cavern. Henderson was again the provided, spotting Jones running into space behind Faes. This time, Jones turned rapidly and fired a quick shot past the unsighted Iversen. Once again, this was checked for offside, and again, Evans was adjudged to have played the attacker onside by mere inches.
The previously-raucous King Power was now a crypt, scarcely louder than the matches played during the COVID days. The visitors knocked the ball around with arrogance and City looked like the halftime whistle couldn’t come quickly enough. A poor Ndidi backpass nearly led to a third, but Iversen stood tall to block Cody Gakpo’s effort.
The Foxes managed just one shot during the entire half, one of Vardy’s four touches. Would Dean Smith produce the halftime talk of his life? He sure needed to.
If Smith made any changes, they weren’t immediately apparent as there was no change to personnel or tactics. The atmosphere was very much one of held breath, knowing that the next could define the season. “Nervous energy” is probably the best way to describe it.
Unfortunately, it was the visitors who struck next. Evans was whistled for a foul outside the area. Mo Sallah tipped it to Alexander-Arnold, who rifled it straight into the top right corner of the net, giving Iversen no hope whatsoever.
Which, appropriately, is how Leicester’s supporters were feeling. They started pouring out of the King Power on 75’ and, even as a diehard City supporter, it’s hard for me to blame them.
Smith sent on Patson Daka for Ndidi and introduced Luke Thomas for Castagne shortly after. It made no difference as the Foxes played with desperation, but precious little quality. There was no coming back from 3-0. To be honest, it never looked as though there would be any coming back from 1-0.
That’s one of the shortest reports I’ll ever write, and I had to struggle to come up with that much to say. We’re fighting with plenty of heart, but we’re playing scared and making foolish mistakes when we can’t afford to make any.
This liberating— Craig (@craiglcfc) May 15, 2023
Yes, Craig. This liberating.
I’ll say this: Anyone who says that James Maddison isn’t giving his all for us can kindly show themselves the door. He was our only real threat, and he worked so hard in defence and on the ball. If the rest of the squad showed the same quality, we might not be in this position.
The defeat leaves us on 30 points from 36 matches and anchored in 19th position on the table. We’re two points adrift of safety, but on days like this one, it’s awfully hard to see where those two points will come from. We face Newcastle next Monday in a match that can be fairly described as “must-win.” “Will win” is a different proposition.