The travelling champions recorded their third loss in a row in the league and their eighth defeat in all competitions when they visited Brendan Rodgers’ hopeful Leicester side in the first kickoff of the 24th gameweek of the year.
Once more it would be horror-show errors and pantomime defending over a span of just a few minutes that have cremated the cadaver of Liverpool’s title retention hopes and put serious doubts into their aspirations of potential Champions League football next season or even European silverware this season, due to this catastrophic run of form for Jürgen Klopp’s team.
The loss of Fabinho to a knock as well as Ben Davies not being fit enough for the matchday squad was a blow before kickoff with Jordan Henderson being forced again into the role of makeshift centre-half.
Leicester would get the first chance in the 11th minute of the game as Harvey Barnes was able to loop a ball over the Liverpool defence for Jamie Vardy to chase and seeing Alisson a few yards off his goal-line after his calamitous performance against Manchester City last week and possibly taking inspiration from Danny Ings’ finish from last month Vardy went for the lob over the Brazilian. Too much power on the shot sent the ball onto the roof of the net, out of play.
An early casualty for Liverpool as James Milner picked up a hamstring injury a short while later which brought Thiago on from the bench to replace the English veteran of the game.
Salah had a good effort that, for a forward of his quality, he should really do better with. Shortly after the substitution, Alexander-Arnold’s corner was half-cleared, and the Egyptian had the chance for the half-volley – not too dissimilar to the goal he scored against Everton in the Merseyside derby earlier this season.
In that fixture, the winger picked out the corner of the net, this time the shot would be far wide of the target past the right-side post.
Another chance came for the Reds not too long after then as Salah would break past the Leicester defence and with Schmeichel rushing out from his goal the forward would look towards Sadio Mané on the opposing side but Amartey did just enough to block the shot on the open goal to clear.
The Foxes would then reply as Wilfred Ndidi would be granted a free header in the box from James Maddison’s corner. With a considerable height advantage over the Liverpool defenders, the Nigerian looked set to score – however, his headed effort could only be sent wide.
The first half was littered with small and big chances for either side, but the most clear-cut fell to Vardy who in the 42nd minute beat the offside trap from a deft touch onwards by Maddison and one-on-one against the keeper you would normally expect the net to bulge.
The crossbar was the only thing denying Vardy the opener at the King Power Stadium with Alisson beaten by the pace on the shot.
Goalless at the break but plenty of chances for either side made this matchup more than a bit interesting for the neutral viewer at home.
Half time: Leicester City 0-0 Liverpool
The same crossbar would be struck by the ball in the second half with Alexander-Arnold this time being the man with the strike on goal. In the 57th minute, the shot was true but Vardy’s header in the wall would divert the ball just off target as it crashed against the woodwork, although Schmeichel looked to have the top corner covered should the shot have met its desired destination.
Rodgers’ side were looking shaky as Liverpool dominated the early pressure as Firmino had a chance with a corner under just enough pressure from Amartey to send the Brazilian’s headed effort wide.
Nothing could have stopped the Reds’ false nine for the setup for the opener though as Alexander-Arnold prowled on the right flank before thundering his shot against Çağlar Söyüncü. The English right-back retrieved possession from the ricochet and crossed into Firmino’s feet.
At that point, a shooting effort for the striker seemed impossible which is when he pulled off a superb Maradona-esque turn from the approaching Ndidi which, in turn, set up the shot for Salah to hit first time into the bottom left corner of the net.
With some good possession in this half and just around 10 minutes left on the clock, Liverpool’s trip to the East Midlands would go from a much needed and deserved result, considering their recent plight and run of form, to an absolute meltdown.
This would include a lack of understanding of basic defensive duties, gifts of goals complete with wrapping and bows and comedic slapstick mishaps that would be more expected if the Marx Brothers were fielded for the champions instead of the unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate, depending on how you look at it) souls playing for the heart and passion of the red half of Merseyside.
Thiago would demonstrate that not only could he dictate the play from midfield, but he could also dictate the result of a match to a negative disposition as he would bring down Harvey Barnes in a weak effort to tackle the winger on the verge of the penalty area.
Originally Anthony Taylor, the referee, would award a penalty but the VAR official would rule the challenge just outside the box. Many Kopites would think a certain goal was averted.
James Maddison’s distribution from freekicks in the same area of the pitch, Liverpool’s right-side of the goal, had been poor all day. Aiming high every time to meet the height of the likes of Ndidi and Amartey every time but each attempt either being too high or struck too hard for his attackers.
This attempt would be struck low and so all the Liverpool defence were required to do was to anticipate the pace on the ball, track the runners and attempt the clearance if close enough to the pass/shot. None of these actions would take place – except for Roberto Firmino wishing to block Söyüncü’s run-in on goal.
Amartey stood in front of Firmino, however, and was able to guide the pacey pass past Alisson and into the back of the net. Immediately the goal was ruled as offside but the foot of Firmino would keep Amartey onside whilst Söyüncü was kept out of the passage of play for the goal.
It was a wafer-thin decision, but these are to be expected now in the current situation in the Premier League.
Then, just 3 minutes later, Sadio Mané looked to have been pushed to the ground by Amartey but Anthony Taylor did not act on the potential foul. Possession fell to the feet of Ndidi who hoisted the ball wide to Tielemans and with just one ball launched 30 yards forward Liverpool would commit defensive suicide.
Ozan Kabak, on debut, wished to clear just as Alisson rushed out to do the same and as the Turkish centre-back attempted to clear the effort struck his goalkeeper outside the box and the ball fell to Vardy for an open goal.
If Kabak did not hear a shout from his goalkeeper because that shout was not made, Alisson is to blame but if Kabak simply ignored the call then the mistake is from both players. Images and audio from the game cannot conclude this matter; therefore, it is only fair to share the blame amongst the two players.
The final goal would be a mistake from almost all from the Liverpool midfield line to the backline as possession would be relinquished in Leicester’s half as Salah’s pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain was lazy and misplaced. One triangle pass to Ndidi would be enough to take all of the Reds’ midfielders out of the game and put Barnes through-in on-goal for the killer blow.
Woeful, calamitous with schoolboy errors from Liverpool in the second half.
If this team wishes to beat RB Leipzig on Tuesday, this performance will not cut it.
Any hope of beating an Everton side in the next Premier League fixture will require more cutting edge and fewer errors.
Based on the way Klopp’s side capitulated in the second half of this game with just 10 minutes to go, the club could be out of all chances of silverware and be staring into a destiny of midtable mediocrity in a matter of just a couple of weeks.
At least Thiago is a Liverpool player though, yeah?
Full time: Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Amartey (7), Evans (6), Söyüncü (7), Pereira (7), Tielemans (7), Ndidi (7), Albrighton (5), Maddison (7), Barnes (7), Vardy (7).
Subs: Pérez (6), Choudhury (n/a), Mendy (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (4), Alexander-Arnold (7), Kabak (4), Henderson (6), Robertson (5), Milner (5), Wijnaldum (5), Jones (6), Salah (6), Firmino (7), Mané (5).
Subs: Thiago (5), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a), Shaqiri (n/a).
Man of the match: Wilfred Ndidi.