Liverpool failed to fully capitalise on Manchester City’s shock loss to Newcastle, as they were denied all three points by Leicester in a disappointing performance last night at Anfield:
It initially looked like being a straightforward affair for the Reds after Sadio Mane fired us ahead after only three minutes with a fine finish into the bottom corner.
Even with the snowy conditions proving difficult, especially for Alisson who had a few sloppy moments when under pressure, Liverpool mainly seemed in control and on course to get three points and extend their lead to seven points after Newcastle’s victory on Tuesday night. The Kop certainly showed their appreciation for Rafa Benitez by loudly chanting his name in adulation throughout the first half.
However, Leicester managed to get themselves an equaliser against the narrative just on the stroke of half-time after Van Dijk lost Harry Maguire on the far post and the Englishman managed to fire his shot beyond Alisson. The free-kick routine which resulted in the goal could have been easily avoided if Andy Robertson hadn’t given away a needless foul, deciding to hack at Ricardo Pereira when he was going nowhere in the corner.
Although it was a disappointing display bar the first five minutes; it seemed the Reds were suffering from early stage fright in the title run in, fans had fair reason to be aggrieved at referee Martin Atkinson.
He would have been within reason to send off Maguire in the first half after he brought down Mane, who would have arguably been free on goal but escaped with only a yellow.
The second instance that drew ire from fans was much more blatant as Liverpool were denied a stonewall penalty after Pereira stood on Naby Keita’s foot just prior to the midfielder unleashing a shot. For all this talk from rivals about the “FA wanting Liverpool to win the league”, that seemed far from apparent at Anfield.
Bar the Keita penalty instance, the second-half was something of a nothing affair for Liverpool, with Roberto Firmino’s attempt straight at Kasper Schmeichel the only chance of note. Leicester even had the opportunity to come away with all three points if Demarai Gray had decided to square the ball to Maddison in the centre as opposed to taking a chance on himself and shooting straight at Alisson.
You can point to nerves or the conditions as factors but ultimately Liverpool just weren’t good enough to widen the gap on City and a draw was a fair result.
Even though a 5 point lead is still very encouraging, you can’t help but think it feels like a missed opportunity.
Was like he’d never encountered snow in his life in the first-half, making two noticeable errors. Did improve after the break and made a good save after Firmino diverted the ball towards his own net.
Jordan Henderson: 7
Playing in an unfamiliar right-back role, the captain offered a surprising outlet down the right and put some great crosses into the box.
Joel Matip: 6
Made some decent runs out from the back and picked up a booking after a tactical foul on Vardy. Deceptively weak for a man of his size though, as shown by how he was outmuscled by Ben Chilwell at a corner.
Virgil Van Dijk: 5.5
Far from his imperious best, Van Dijk was partially at fault for the equaliser after his lapse of concentration allowed Maguire to fire home.
Andrew Robertson: 5.5
Bombed forward as usual and played a part in the goal, but his foul on Pereira was unnecessary and stupid, proving to be costly.
Gini Wijnaldum: 7.5
Kept the ball ticking nicely in midfield and did a really solid job defensively, Wijnaldum’s work ethic was integral for the Reds.
Naby Keita: 6
Playing in his preferred position, Keita showed some flashes against the Foxes and was unfortunate not to win a penalty off Pereira. Is often guilty of trying to do too much, something which needs to improve.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 5
A very subdued performance and it’s difficult to recall any particular highlight. Is perhaps better as an impact sub than starting games.
Roberto Firmino: 7
Worked hard as always and forced two good saves from Schmeichel.
Sadio Mane: 8 (Man of the Match)
The Reds’ best performer on the day, Mane was without question Liverpool’s most dangerous player and it was a great finish to open the scoring in the initial stages.
Mo Salah: 5
Similarly to Shaqiri, Mo was disappointingly quiet and did nothing to influence the game. Could have done with much more service though.
Adam Lallana (for Shaqiri, 67’): 5
Didn’t change the game at all going forwards and you have to wonder why Klopp brought him on to begin with.
Fabinho (for Keita, 67’): 7
Was positive when he came on and showed plenty of drive in midfield. Would have started if it weren’t for fitness concerns and is now one of our most important players.
Daniel Sturridge (for Firmino, 82’): 4
Wasteful and made no impact at all, apart from blazing the ball into the Kop when presented with a semblance of a chance. His time must be up at Anfield.