This game was always going to be tough.
On Tuesday, Manchester City lost to Newcastle United. A win by Liverpool would put them 7 points clear and in commanding position for their first Premier League title.
Leicester City is no easy out. And even with the game at Anfield, with driving snow and sleet pre-game and in the first half, anything could happen.
It actually did, with Sadio Mane scoring in the second minute and Leicester equalizing in the last seconds of the first half. From there, it was a battle at the Kop…and a missed opportunity.
Jurgen Klopp (5) – Dropping points in this one is mostly on Klopp.
He didn’t start Fabinho despite recent good form. He inexplicably pulled Firmino in the 82nd despite being Liverpool’s best player on the day.
Yes, the conditions added a variable to play, but this was an opportunity to put the season virtually away, and he didn’t have his squad up to task.
Alisson (7) – Alisson was like the weather: all over the place.
He was sloppy in the first half, once again playing with fire on a careless pass led to a turnover and almost an equalizing goal. Sometimes watching Alisson is like observing a toddler walking a tightrope: it’s fascinating and makes your stomach turn. That was the case in the 40th minute as he came out to nearly midfield to stop a counter. He could’ve stopped the stoppage time goal at the very end of the first half.
But then he came alive in the second half. Alisson made a great save in 50th that kept Liverpool from going down 1-2. He did it again at the 53rd, saving an own goal.
Then in the 63rd minute he goes and makes way too difficult a pass for Jordan Henderson to bring down, who he put instantly under pressure.
Then he stepped up with another save.
And on it goes.
Georginio Wijnaldum (6) – Forced into the RB role with Trent Alexander-Arnold still out with injury, Gini was his typical solid-if-not-spectacular self. Often played deeper and towards the center of the pitch covering for Robertson’s attacking runs.
TAA’s attacking style could’ve benefited the squad today though, particularly in the second half.
Joel Matip (6) –Matip looks comfortable at CB and a capable fill-in until Joe Gomez comes back. He’s certainly the preferred option at this point over Dejan Lovren.
Virgil van Dijk (6) – VVD wasn’t his typical boss self this game. It often felt like Leicester controlled the attacking third more than van Dijk usually allows.
Andrew Robertson (8) – Robertson is the best LB in the Premier League and possibly in Europe. Once again, he was frenetic energy all game, attacking non-stop. He is functioning as a pseudo left-wing now.
While his crosses are invaluable, if he’s going to continue playing this high up the pitch, Klopp should encourage him to rip shots too. He’s passing up too many opportunities for shots, opting instead to find passes.
Regardless, his build up to Firmino led to the opening Mane goal, and his through-ball to Mane in the 41st (and ensuing penalty) should’ve seen Harry Maguire sent off.
The only thing keeping Robbo from grading higher is his penalty in stoppage ultimately led to the Maguire equalizer.
Jordan Henderson (6) – Copy+Paste: He was active and fine. Nothing showy, nothing spectacular. Always solid.
Xherdan Shaqiri (5) – He might just need to come off the bench. Shaqiri wasn’t effective in a starting role again. He seems to thrive as a super-sub.
Naby Keita (5) – Well, he was better at least. Keita still isn’t the threat Anfield-faithful had hoped for, but baby steps here. He was better. He should’ve earned a penalty getting tripped up in the box in the second half, but he also should’ve gotten a shot off before getting tripped up. Was rightfully subbed out for Adam Lallana, who immediately looked better.
Mohamed Salah (6) – Just OK. When he fell in the box in the 38th minute, while not a dive, it would be nice to see Mo try harder to stay on his feet. How much is his perceived diving hurting Liverpool on potential penalties like against Keita?
Roberto Firmino (8.5) – Liverpool’s most consistent threat and Man of the Match. Bobby’s flick to Mane on the opening goal and general creativity are so underrated. He almost landed a go-ahead in the second half with some nifty footwork and a well-timed strike. It may be worth giving him so run at CM and or just going to a permanent 4-2-3-1, as Bobby’s creativity is something lacking in Liverpool’s midfield right now.
Ultimately, he was pulled for Sturridge too soon.
Sadio Mane (7) – MANE OWNS LEICESTER. Started off strong with a great finish a minute into the game. His off ball movement was very good today, but his mistiming on offsides are a constant issue. Active in recovery this game with a good dispossession at the 33rd when Leicester was in Liverpool’s attacking third.
Adam Lallana (6.5) – Entering in the 66th minute, he was instant energy.
Fabinho (5.5) – Coming in at the 67th minute, he didn’t have much of an impact this time. He needs to start.
Daniel Sturridge (NR) – Came on in the 82nd for Firmino in hopes of adding a late game winner.