Liverpool 3-0 Leicester: Jurgen Klopp’s men back to their best despite injury crisis

Liverpool 3-0 Leicester: Jurgen Klopp’s men back to their best despite injury crisis

Nobody wins the league in November, we all know that. It is, however, possible to make history. And that is exactly what Liverpool did on Sunday night.

On an evening when the club paid tribute to the late, great, Ray Clemence, Jurgen Klopp’s men broke one of the records set by his mighty Liverpool team: a run of 63 unbeaten home games between February 1978 and December 1980. 

Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters’ are now 64 and counting. Clemence, a generous man as well as an outstanding goalkeeper, would no doubt have approved. Indeed, it is a pity the minute’s applause that marked his passing is currently so muted in empty stadiums; Anfield would have loved to have shown its appreciation properly.

Liverpool moved level on points with league leaders Tottenham with a 3-0 win over Leicester

Liverpool moved level on points with league leaders Tottenham with a 3-0 win over Leicester

But there was more injury concern for Jurgen Klopp's side as Naby Keita limped off on Sunday

But there was more injury concern for Jurgen Klopp’s side as Naby Keita limped off on Sunday

Klopp’s group did, though, with a performance that would have made any Liverpool man proud, sweeping Leicester aside despite being dogged by injuries to key players in every area of the field. 

They won the game in the first-half, establishing a deserved two goal lead, before Roberto Firmino hit the post twice in the second-half, and scored a headed third with five minutes to go. It was an emphatic win, arguably Liverpool’s strongest performance of the season. Certainly, their most resolute.

Leicester’s chances were talked up prior to this game to such an extent a victory, or at least a point, would almost not have qualified as an upset. Liverpool soon dissuaded the pretenders of that notion. 

The Premier League champions put in their strongest display of the season on Sunday night

The Premier League champions put in their strongest display of the season on Sunday night

They were, to put it bluntly, a different class, taking charge early and refusing to let go, by the end of the night tied with Tottenham on points at the top of the table. 

Whatever further misfortune may befall them – and Naby Keita looks to be the latest injury victim – here was a performance that confirmed nothing will be conceded this season without one hell of a fight. 

It was a display, too, that showed how far Liverpool have come in recent years under Klopp; the ferocity of their work-rate and closing down reminding of nothing more than Leicester in their title-winning season.

And, yes, it was a strange goal that gave Liverpool the lead, but it was not strange that they should go ahead. The champions were much the better team from the first kick, Leicester disappointing despite their positive intent. 

A comical Jonny Evans (second right) own goal gave the Premier League champions the lead

A comical Jonny Evans (second right) own goal gave the Premier League champions the lead

It should be remembered, mind, that Leicester have significant injuries, too, not least at the back where Christian Fuchs is currently deployed as a makeshift centre-half.

Even so, they will never have enjoyed a better opportunity to take advantage of Liverpool, with two centre-halves and the right-back missing, as well as Mo Salah and the captain, Jordan Henderson. 

Given those circumstances, then, this 90 minutes was exceptional not least in the way Liverpool seized control when Leicester might have hoped to spring a few swift shocks.

Instead, it was Liverpool whose energy surprised, not least through James Milner, filling in at full-back for Trent Alexander-Arnold and playing with the verve of a youth team promotion hoping to catch the manager’s eye.  It wasn’t just his running, either, but his delivery of dead balls that meant Liverpool’s usual right-back-cum-playmaker was not missed. 

James Milner set up the opener from the corner and he shone at right-back for the Reds

James Milner set up the opener from the corner and he shone at right-back for the Reds

It was Milner’s corners that caused Leicester enormous problems, leading directly to the opening goal after 21 minutes, and Firmino’s third.

Yes, there was an element of fortune about that first one, because it was an own goal and an atypical one at that, but Liverpool made their own luck as the saying goes, not least because they placed Leicester under enormous pressure and that was partly why they cracked.

A Keita shot, deflected wide, gave Milner an early opportunity to show how dangerous he could be, after just two minutes. His corner picked out Sadio Mane at the near post, his header going just wide.

Kasper Schmeichel was called into action twice in five minutes to save shots from Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones – and then the fateful moment. 

It was a good corner by Milner, in a difficult area, but there really was no explanation for the way it flew off the wrong side of Jonny Evans’ head and into the goal. It even bamboozled the stadium announcer. 

Evans looked perplexed after he inadvertently headed Liverpool in front during the first-half

Evans looked perplexed after he inadvertently headed Liverpool in front during the first-half

‘The scorer for Liverpool – number nine, Roberto Firmino!’ he revealed. Replays showed Firmino was about as near to it as Leicester’s number nine, Jamie Vardy. If anything, it was the lurking presence of Mane that put the hapless Evans off.

Corners and set pieces continued troubling Leicester. Joel Matip headed wide from one after 27 minutes, and later met a free-kick from Andy Robertson that he sent back across goal, to no avail.

Then, four minutes before half-time, Liverpool scored a crucial, and deserved, second. It was beautifully worked from wide areas again, this time from open play, as Robertson cut inside an over-committed Marc Albrighton, whipping a ball in for Jota at the near post. 

Diogo Jota (right) headed in from Andy Robertson's cross to double Liverpool's first-half lead

Diogo Jota (right) headed in from Andy Robertson’s cross to double Liverpool’s first-half lead

Jota scored for the fourth home match in a row since his big money arrival from Wolves

Jota scored for the fourth home match in a row since his big money arrival from Wolves

He got inside Fuchs and steered a magnificent header past Schmeichel, becoming the first player in Liverpool’s history to score in his first four home games. What a signing he has been.

Leicester? They had their moments and perhaps a genuine grievance when Matip appeared to handle in the area, with James Maddison in attendance, after four minutes. Certainly, by modern standards, it was worth a shout.

They also spurned the chance of an early equaliser when, three minutes after Evans’ calamity, Harvey Barnes suffered one at the other end. 

Vardy cut the ball back to him in a good position but Barnes sliced his shot well wide. James Justin came closer ten minutes later, cutting inside from the left and curling a shot narrowly past the far post.

It was a quiet night for Leicester talisman and last season's top goalscorer Jamie Vardy (above)

It was a quiet night for Leicester talisman and last season’s top goalscorer Jamie Vardy (above) 

The second-half, however, swiftly restored Liverpool’s supremacy. Jota side-footed a good chance over the bar early, before a lovely pass from Milner – now moved into midfield after the injury to Keita – set Mane through one on one, Schmeichel making an outstanding save. 

Jota then tested him again, and was first to the ball after a strong parry, Schmeichel struggling to recover and Firmino hitting the near post with a header in the ensuing scramble.

Soon after, chaos again. A Jota shot saved, Firmino finding wood again with the rebound before A|brighton cleared off the line. The Brazilian merited a goal though and, through another Milner corner, finally delivered after 85 minutes.

Liverpool hit the post three times in the second-half including twice from Roberto Firmino 

Firmino (second right) finally got his reward late on when he headed home Liverpool's third

Firmino (second right) finally got his reward late on when he headed home Liverpool’s third

Klopp will no doubt be delighted with the result but vexed by the Keita injury – although the midfielder has been comparatively lightly raced this season with six first-team starts in all competitions. It is impressive, though, the way Liverpool continue to rise about this run of misfortune. 

Imagine what they would be like with access to five substitutes. Maybe that’s what the others are scared of.

See below for Sportsmail’s OLLIE LEWIS’ minute-by-minute live blog of Liverpool 3-0 Leicester including score, lineups and updates…

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