Player ratings: Liverpool 2-1 Leicester

Mane-celebrates-goal
Just when you thought the winning run was coming to an end, Mane gets brutally assaulted (chuckle) in the box in the dying minutes of the game, up steps Milner and it’s eight straight wins to kick off our league campaign. Let’s see how the league leaders fared then, against a good Leicester team, led by a familiar face. Outstanding.

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Adrian (6) - Very little to do for the most part, until conceding from their first shot on target. Really should have done better as it was a bit of a scuffed shot, straight at him but couldn’t sort his legs out and in it went. Probably Adrian’s last game for a while, with Alisson’s return imminent. Can be proud of the work he’s done for the team while deputising.

TAA (7) - Decent display from Trent, fairly solid defensively against Chilwell for the most part and joined in the attacks at every opportunity. Unlucky not to get an assist after Bobby failed to get on the end of one of his crosses and managed to acrobatically both keep the ball in and get it into a dangerous area, after chasing down what looked a lost cause.

Lovren (7.5) - I was worried about Lovren playing before kick off but I felt he was our best defender on the day. Lovren can be guilty of not reading the game very well but that wasn’t the case on Saturday as he made a number of interceptions and was excellent in the air throughout the game. Good confidence builder, considering his lack of game time.

VVD (6.5) - Decent game from Virgil as he and Lovren did a good job of keeping Vardy quiet throughout the game. Should have scored however, when finding himself with a free header from a corner and Maddison got in behind him for their goal. Hasn’t looked quite himself in recent weeks however, maybe carrying a knock.

Robertson (7) - Not as involved in an attacking sense as much but did a really good job of negating the attacking threat of Ricardo - a player who has been causing teams problems all season but was eventually subbed yesterday, after making minimal impact. Possibly the positional shake up of our front three affected Robbo’s usual creativity. Offered Perez a square go in the tunnel after the game. Gotta love him.

Fabinho (7) - Cruised the the majority of the game, doing what Fabinho does, breaking up play and recycling possession. First half booking led to a slightly more measured display but was a major part in us winning the midfield battle for the majority of the game.

Wijnaldum (6.5) - Busy first half and actually got himself into a couple of decent attacking positions for once but made a bit of a hash of them. Better though, in terms of trying to influence the game. Pressed well but faded as the game wore on, which has been a theme recently. Looks like he could do with a rest.

Milner (8) - Demonstrated why many fans bemoan our lack of goal threat from midfield, after putting two decent shooting opportunities high into the stand, when he should really have done better.  Assists are more up Milner’s street however and what a sumptuous pass for Mane’s opener. After that, when it comes to a cool head for a pressure penalty, there are few better and he came up with the goods once more, scoring what may prove to be a vital winner in the title race. That’s a goal and an assist in his last two starts. Food for thought Jurgen.

Mane (9) - Started on the right and absolutely bossed Chilwell in the first half, pushing him back into his shell a bit. One sliding tackle he made as well, any defender would have been proud of. It was from his more familiar position on the left however that he did the damage, first latching on to Milner’s superb pass before calmly slotting past Schmeichel, to once again be the player to open the scoring for us. Won the penalty for the eventual winner by refusing to give up on the ball, although it could be argued he went down theatrically. Albrighton was clumsy in his tackle however and did make contact. It was one of those that isn’t given if the player stays on his feet. What a player Mane has turned into though and his importance to the team has now surpassed that of Salah in my opinion.

Salah (6) - Looked lively in the opening stages but then went back to stinking the place out, as he has been in recent weeks. Forced one good save out of Schmeichel but another game he’ll rather forget. He hasn’t looked right since the bust up with Mane. I think for the first time ever at the weekend, I saw Salah look for a pass when he should have shot. The argument with Mane was waiting to happen though and he does need to find that balance between passing and shooting. The really frustrating thing is, he had it in his first season with us and that was also his most prolific period in front of goal. I’m sure it will resolve itself soon however. Limped off after a shocking challenge from Choudhury but thankfully, the news coming out the camp is that it’s not serious.

Firmino (6) - Started on the left and as always when Bobby plays out wide, he struggled to influence the game. Switched back to his central role which improved his overall play but never really got a foothold in the creative side of the game. Did his defensive duties well, as always.

Subs:

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Origi (6) - Played a part in the build up to winning the penalty, with his willing running.

Henderson (6) - Brought fresh legs into midfield for a tiring Wijnaldum.

Lallana (N/A) - Loves a scrap.

Klopp-watch (8) - Most were surprised to see the positions our front three took up at the start of the game but it was undoubtedly Klopp’s plan to negate the threat posed by their fullbacks, who have been hurting teams this season. Salah tends to leave Trent isolated so Mane started on the right and he and Trent bossed Chilwell, while Bobby and Robbo kept Ricardo quiet. It was another decision that could have opened him up to criticism had it not paid off but it did pay off, so once again his decision was vindicated. I seem to say that a lot about Klopp, as his tactical nous continues to impress.

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Summary:

Once again then, it’s a case of job done as opposed to waxing lyrical about the performance but I’ll take that every week for the rest of the season. Some call us lucky but it happens too often for it to be luck and for me, it’s a reflection of the manager. We never give up and it’s the small details are where we’re winning games at the moment. Klopp is all about the small details, as demonstrated by hiring a specialist throw in coach. We’re also not accepting draws these days and the fact we just keep finding a way to get over the line, shows the mental strength Klopp has instilled in this squad.

I said in a post on one of Case’s recent excellent articles, that for the first time in the Premier League era, I have us as favourites. We look so strong and we have leaders all over the pitch, driving the team on. Remember when Gerrard retired, the head scratching that went in when deciding who should be his successor. We now have captains all over the pitch and they have a real hunger to win.

Eight points clear after eight games is something nobody expected but City are now paying the price for not replacing Kompany in the summer and it’s going to be January before they can address that. I can see them slipping up again in that time but most importantly, they play us in November. I genuinely believe that if we just play our natural game, we'll cause that defence all kinds of trouble and defeating them could be enough to swing the title. I know we blew a big lead last season but this team has come of age now and are a different animal, even to last season.

Another tedious international break to navigate then, so fingers crossed our boys all come back healthy but after this break is when I expect us to kick on performance wise. We’re a team that plays best when we have a rhythm, playing every three or four days and the games will start to come thick and fast when the boys return. Personally, I can’t wait.

United next in the league, once again if we just play our natural game, we should have far too much for them. Let’s get us a nice handful of salt for their wound. Not that I’m bitter or anything... Walk on.
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