Liverpool showcase steel of champions in Premier League slaying of Leicester

Melissa Reddy
·3 min read
 (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
(Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp has always maintained the most important players at any football club are the ones that are available, but that mindset is sure to be tested when the list of absentees includes Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

To put that another way, it’s the game’s current best centre-back, Liverpool’s top scorer and a world-class forward, their captain, a midfielder of the highest pedigree, the other half of their first-choice pairing in the heart of defence and a record assister.

But a squad so in tune with their manager’s belief once again proved his “mentality monsters” tag accurate as they stepped up to scorch Leicester City, reminding observers of the trait that ensured their status as defending champions.

Liverpool are brilliantly coached, technically astute and tireless, but crowning all of that is their ability to step up rather than be shattered by setbacks.

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With a defensive crisis and facing the most dangerous visitors in the division – also missing part of their core, but who already mutilated Manchester City and Leeds on the counter-attack, to complement a win at Arsenal – the Merseysiders simply turned in one of their displays of the season.

By half-time, a Jonny Evans own goal and a glorious Andy Robertson cross that was buried by Diogo Jota put the hosts 2-0 up at Anfield.

It wasn’t solely the goals and offensive power that was impressive from Liverpool, however: They restricted Brendan Rodgers’ men to just three shots in total in the opening 45 minutes and nullified the threat of Jamie Vardy.

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The striker, so often a thorn to Liverpool’s defence, was reduced to being involved in more clearances than attacking final-third action on Sunday night.

Klopp’s side continued to dominate and conjure openings after the break, with Christian Fuchs vitally heading clear after Kasper Schmeichel palmed a Sadio Mane shot and Evans fortunate not to have conceded a second own goal.

Alisson was finally troubled into making a double save after the hour mark, first thwarting Vardy at his feet before denying Harvey Barnes from the follow-up.

Roberto Firmino and Mane hit the post within seconds of each other, with the former’s shot just cleared off the line by Marc Albrighton.

Diogo Jota (left) scored Liverpool’s second after a Jonny Evans own goalPOOL/AFP via Getty Images
Diogo Jota (left) scored Liverpool’s second after a Jonny Evans own goalPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Brazil international ultimately received reward for his industry and subtle artistry on the night, heading in James Milner’s corner to make it 3-0.

An unexpectedly comfortable night for Liverpool was only blotched by another injury – this time to Naby Keita, who had played two full games for Guinea after a five-week lay-off.

And so, the champions extend their unbeaten run at Anfield to 64 league games, their longest-ever spell in the top flight.

It has been seven fixtures since the obituary of their season had seemingly been written following the injury to Van Dijk, but despite the list of unavailable players only rising, Liverpool have won six of them and drawn the other.

For Leicester, this was the second year in a row they entered a meeting with Klopp’s charges tipped for triumph only to once again find themselves levels below their opponents.

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