Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City: Three talking points from Anfield
Mohamed Salah produced another inspired performance as Liverpool came from behind to beat Leicester City. Jamie Vardy had stunned Anfield with a shock third-minute goal, but the irresistible Egyptian scored twice in the second half – taking his Premier League tally for the season to 17 – to extend Liverpool’s unbeaten run to 15 matches.
Victory keeps the Reds in fourth spot but they are now only three points behind third-place Manchester United, who could only play out a goalless draw with Southampton. Leicester, meanwhile, remain eighth despite their third defeat in four outings. Here are three talking points.
Salah is Liverpool’s saviour yet again
Such has been their form of late that it would have come as quite a shock to the Anfield faithful when their team went into half-time a goal behind. When they needed someone to stand up and be counted in the second period, it was no surprise that Salah, arguably the signing of the summer window, made himself known.
He has been directly involved in 22 goals this season and his vital brace ensured there was no setback in the hosts’ quest for a top-four position. Jurgen Klopp was delighted with his side’s performance and, in particular, the way in which they responded to falling a goal behind.
They remained patient despite having spurned numerous chances before Salah eventually made the breakthrough. The only negative was seeing the former Chelsea and Roma man limp off in the closing stages. In such a congested period of the season, the Liverpool manager will hope he can recover in time for their New Year’s Day fixture with Burnley.
Leicester defeated, but not disheartened
After making a barnstorming start to Claude Puel’s reign, Leicester have stalled somewhat in recent weeks. It’s now four games without a win for the Foxes, with this their second consecutive 2-1 loss. Vardy’s ninth goal of the season was the perfect start and, after getting to the interval unscathed, the visiting supporters would have begun to wonder if it was their day.
Alas, it was not to be, as Salah had the decisive say and Leicester’s fruitless run continued. There is no reason for Puel to be alarmed, though. He would have been bitterly disappointed with the defeat away to Watford on Boxing Day, which came just days after they had staged a remarkable comeback to draw with Manchester United.
But they were always up against it here, against a free-scoring Liverpool side that are in perfect harmony right now. In all honestly, Leicester are a mid-table outfit and their current position of eighth feels about right. Most importantly, thanks to Puel, the threat of relegation has vanished and they can look to the future with optimism.
Defensive duo under the spotlight
With Liverpool having announced that Virgil van Dijk is to join the club officially from Southampton on January 1, all eyes were on Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip in the heart of defence. One of them is expected to make way in order to accommodate the Dutchman, whose £75 million transfer is a world-record fee for a defender.
But if either player felt under pressure to perform, he didn’t show it. Defensive errors have undermined Liverpool at times this season, particularly in the Champions League where they have frittered away leads. But both Lovren and Matip looked relatively comfortable throughout and, after Vardy’s opener, they kept Leicester at bay.
The arrival of long-term target Van Dijk, who maintained a watching brief for the game, will shore up the back line and could even have a galvanising effect on his fellow defenders. The increased competition for places was just what Klopp wanted, with Liverpool hoping to fight on three fronts for the remainder of the campaign.
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