Competition: Carabao Cup 3rd Round
Venue: King Power Stadium
So, the Reds were back in action again tonight. September is a gruelling month, match-wise for most clubs, second only to December.
Liverpool have stayed true to their form of recent years by struggling in the immediate aftermath of the first international break of the season. A 5-0 trouncing at City was followed up with two home draws (2-2 v Sevilla, 1-1 v Burnley). Now, they begin a run of four away games in a row, including a trip to Moscow.
Klopp made eight changes from the starting eleven against Burnley. It was great to see Danny Ings’ name on the bench on his long road to recovery while it was surprising that Lazar Markovic was also named among the substitutes. Coutinho started again in his quest to get back to full match-fitness. He was joined up front with two summer signings, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke.
Leicester were all change as well. Jamie Vardy wasn’t in the squad while the likes of Mahrez, Okazaki and Iheanacho were on the bench.
Leicester lineup – Hamer, Amartey, Dragovic, Morgan(c), Chilwell, Albrighton, Iborra, Ndidi, Gray, Slimani, Ulloa
Subs: Jakupovic, Iheanacho, Musa, Okazaki, Mahrez, Benalouane, Choudhury
Liverpool lineup – Ward, Flanagan, Gomez, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson(c), Grujic, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Coutinho
Subs: Karius, Milner, Moreno, Ings, Markovic, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold
Liverpool settled quickest at the King Power Stadium. They had the lion’s share of the possession in the first half, and even more so in the opening twenty minutes.
On five minutes, Grujic and Coutinho combined before the Brazilian midfielder released Robertson on the left. Robertson played in a great ball which found Oxlade-Chamberlain at the back post. His low effort was blocked brilliantly, however, by Ben Chilwell.
Danny Ward didn’t have much to deal with in the first half but in the ninth minute he did win a race to the ball with Slimani and cleared his lines with no problems whatsoever.
Coutinho was impressive in the first half. In the eleventh minute, he went on a mazy run just outside the Leicester box. Everyone seemed terrified of fouling him. Coutinho eventually got his shot off but Hamer beat it away at the near post.
Along with Coutinho, Andy Robertson was giving a good account of himself. His delivery really does have a consistency about it that Liverpool have lacked from a full-back for many years.
It was Coutinho again who had the next shot on goal after a tidy one-two with Solanke. Unfortunately, his finish was easy for Hamer to deal with once more.
There were more half-chances for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Solanke, while Coutinho had a free-kick which was miles off target.
Coutinho created a good chance for Solanke just before the half-time whistle with a delightfully chipped ball over the top of the Leicester defence. Just when Solanke needed a little ‘dink’ over the onrushing Hamer he caught it too heavy and his shot went over the bar.
Half-time: Leicester 0 – 0 Liverpool
Ben Woodburn came on to replace Philippe Coutinho at half-time.
At the start of the second half, Grujic gave away a foul giving Leicester a free-kick just outside the box and in a very dangerous area. Thankfully for the Reds, Gray’s shot was well over the bar.
Gray had another strike on goal ten minutes later after he ran at the Liverpool defence. This time his shot was dragged well wide of Ward’s goal, however.
Marko Grujic was booked for a rash challenge on Ndidi in the 57th minute. Leicester were notably having more a say in the game after the break. No surprise, really, considering Coutinho had gone off.
In the 65th minute, Leicester took the lead. Their corner was initially cleared by Grujic but the Foxes got it back into the box. The ball found its way to Iborra on the penalty spot. He cushioned a header back down for Okazaki. Okazaki’s shot was hit into the ground but it had enough in it to bounce past the diving Danny Ward. 1-0.
Two minutes later and Oxlade-Chamberlain pounced on some sloppy Leicester defending. He had a snapshot from the edge of the box go just over the bar.
After a quick free-kick in the 72nd minute, Woodburn made some space for a shot from wide on the left. He came so close with his effort. It went just over the bar at the far corner of the net.
A minute later, Danny Ings made his long-awaited return to first-team football after two forgettable years due to injuries. He replaced Wijnaldum as Klopp had to push for at least an equaliser in the last twenty minutes or so.
Ings almost got a flick onto a deflected cross in the 77th minute. Everyone else seemed to fall asleep but Ings anticipated where the ricocheted ball was heading. His quick thinking wasn’t rewarded as his lack of a connection let him down.
The next minute and it was all over. Leicester made it two through Slimani. He hit a bullet of a left-footed strike from just outside the box. Again, Danny Ward was powerless to prevent it from hitting the top corner of the net. 2-0.
Leicester were flying now. Gray had a great shot from the left just tipped around the post by Danny Ward.
Leicester held firm for the remaining minutes, although, in truth, it wasn’t quite clear where the Reds could get any creative spark from at that stage. In fairness to Ben Woodburn, he had looked lively since coming on but there wasn’t a lot of team cohesion to work with around him.
Grujic tried a wayward shot from long range in injury-time. That was about as close as Liverpool would come in the closing stages.
Final Score: Leicester 2 – 0 Liverpool