LIVERPOOL 1-0 LEICESTER CITY
Liverpool are back to winning ways again and this time, we won against current Premier League leaders Leicester City.
A tight defence saw our opposition which had included Premier League leading goalscorer Jamie Vardy score no goals and we’d take all 3 points thanks to a vital, single 63rd minute winner.
Jürgen Klopp thankfully had some vital team members at his disposal, which were partly why we managed to overcome such a big threat and win this fixture.
Recent matches saw Mignolet not being able to be used due to injury and Adam Bogdan really failed to live up to expectations for being our “first choice goalkeeper”. Had Simon Mignolet not been cleared as being fully fit for action until the new year, I think we would have seen our manager scout new goalkeepers early in the transfer window as Bogdan is simply not an effective replacement for Mignolet.
Other good news included that we would have Dejan Lovren, who has also recovered from injury to make a surprise comeback into the first team. Martin Skrtel recently got hurt in a game and is to be out for up to 2 months. With that news, it’s good to see some parts of defence coming back to return as some are taken away from us. It’s doubtful we could have stopped Leicester from scoring without Mignolet and Lovren in the first team. They’ve been on a 9 game unbeaten streak before they played us at Anfield.
I managed to get a hold of a ticket for seeing this game live at Anfield. I would be sitting in the Anfield Road part of the stadium, not too far away from our opponents fans.
Before the game kicked off I met a Leicester fan with a “Vardy 9” shirt on. I jokingly informed him that (Jamie) Vardy would not score because we had our best goalkeeper in goal again (instead of the backup goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan). He laughed and informed me that Vardy would still score, even past Mignolet. He was quite interested in seeing a lot of Anfield, asking me where some of the major attractions of our ground where. I pointed him in the direction of The Kop and the Bill Shankly statue.
Other friendly fans I met around Anfield were some supporters from Europe, who are part of the official German Supporters Club for Liverpool FC. I sat in Anfield Road with some Germans who had travelled a long way, just to see Liverpool play and to show support for our German manager Jürgen Klopp and our German player, Emre Can. It was a pleasant experience that I will not forget. I speak a small amount of German and heard quite a few German songs being sung but did not understand all of them. It was enjoyable to be with them, though.
As the game began, there was a wonderful atmosphere. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was sung loud and proud by our fans and all were excited and happy to be there watching Liverpool, despite some poor form and a run of disappointing results from our team in recent weeks.
Liverpool would dominate the first half and show from early on in the game that the conceding of three goals (as had happened against Watford) would not be happening in this fixture in our home stadium. Our defence was stronger and we had some key players who had not been available for the Watford game back in our side and showing a clear improvement which we had needed in our away defeat.
I’m sure the half time team talk for Liverpool would have gone something like “they haven’t scored yet and if you keep playing like you did in the first 45 minutes for the second half, they won’t manage doing it at all for the entire game!”
As for goals, Liverpool had several attacks that could have easily ended in a goal for us. We went on the offensive multiple times in both halves. One of our key attackers in the first half was Divock Origi however around the 38th minute, there was a serious challenge on him and he sustained an injury. Christian Benteke would come off the substitute bench to replace him. For me, it was one of the key tactical changes which affected how we won the game. We can partly thank Jürgen Klopp for picking the replacement for our injured player well. Benteke wold have a very positive effect on the game.
To be fair to Leicester, they put up pretty good defence and stopped our attacks more times than we made a shot on target. But as the old saying goes “you only need 1 shot to go in” and you can then win the game at least 1-0 (or 0-1), if you defend well and make sure not to concede. That’s what we did, essentially. It would become Liverpool 1-0 Leicester.
The goal we scored came about 63 minutes into the game. Shortly before the goal, Leicester had a player booked (Robert Huth) for a bad foul. Just after the free kick was taken, Roberto Firmino received the ball and would make his way down the left wing and then cross a ball over to Christian Benteke who was waiting to tap a right footed shot past Kasper Schmeichel (son of former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel) and into the net from the center of the box. It would be Christian Benteke’s first goal since he had scored in our 3-1 victory over Chelsea earlier this season. Benteke would look extremely happy and celebrated, making heart shapes with his hand! He loves you, Reds!
Liverpool would spend the rest of this match keeping our defence tight and also tried a few times to increase our lead to two goals. We almost did it too. Later in the game, Kasper Schmeichel had come out of his penalty area when it looked like one of his teammates would collect the ball he’d kicked up the pitch. The attacking Leicester player would slide down onto the pitch to claim the ball, but would fail to collect it. Roberto Firmino on the left wing would collect it. Firmino played the ball from about the half way line up to Benteke who was on the edge of the Leicester penalty area and he only had to get past one defender and shoot the ball into the net now. The 1 defender (and remember there was no goalkeeper) slid in to challenge Benteke as he shot the ball and the defender made a critical block. Liverpool would not have their second goal, denied by a single defender that had been “filling in” for the goalkeeper who was way outside of their penalty area. There was so much space on either side of the defender but somehow Benteke did not manage to put the ball into the net.
I still however think it was an important attack and a major reason for why I am awarding “Man Of The Match” to Benteke. He was only originally brought on in this game to replace the injured Divock Origi but ended up seriously influencing the game in a positive way, almost scoring two goals and eventually scoring the only goal of the game to become a “match winner” for Liverpool. Our defence (defenders and goalkeeper) did really great in this game and though I’d like to give more credit to Lovren, Sakho, Clyne, Moreno and Mignolet for not conceding… if we hadn’t of scored, we’d have drawn the game and it would have been a less important result. Benteke was the man that made sure we’d be victors instead of drawing 0-0. I hope his run of good form can continue into future fixtures as we make our way through the season and into 2016.
Liverpool now will go on to face Southampton as they start a run of away fixtures that will take us far from Anfield for until the middle of the next month. We’ll be playing in both the last game of 2015 (30th December) and the first game of 2016 (2nd january).
Just keep walking on, with hope in your heart! You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.