Every season we band about how ‘it’s our year.’ Liverpool will finally land that elusive Premier League title, surging to the top with Jurgen Klopp’s scintillating philosophy of football. Things never really pan out that way, though.
This year feels different mind you. The Reds now have the depth of quality; Shaqiri, Lallana, Sturridge and Keita all featured on the bench against Leicester and possessed the quality to turn the game on its head should they be required.
Then you’ve got Brazil’s No.1 goalkeeper addressing one of the club’s main weaknesses while Fabinho’s arrival has added even more options to the midfield, reducing captain Jordan Henderson to a bench role prior to Saturday’s game.
A record of four wins from four sees Liverpool perched at the top of the Premier League table despite failing to really emerge from second gear so far. Every league winner will go through a game (or three) where they’ve not hit top gear but fought hard to take home the points – deserved or not.
This was the test of Liverpool’s title credentials; a perfect example of how far the side has come. Previously succumbing positions of strength due to their susceptibility of making individual errors at the back, there’s no way Liverpool would’ve come away with maximum points at the King Power Stadium last season.
Alisson’s second-half mistake caused a string of pressure from the home side after he needlessly messed around with a Cruyff turn inside the area before being dispossessed by Kelechi Iheanacho, but Joe Gomez’s last-ditch tackle and a late headed clearance from Van Dijk ensured the Reds wouldn’t be undone.
The 21-year-old, who recently earned an England call-up, rarely put a foot wrong at the back as he continued an impressive start to the campaign. Indeed, it was his last-ditch challenge on James Maddison from close range that provided the pivotal moment in earning the three points.
As for Alisson, I suppose the lad deserves some credit for warning us about heart attack moments before he committed one. Albeit a frustrating way to concede the first goal of the season, rest assured it won’t deter the ‘keeper from doing so again. Signed for his ability in possession which would add to Liverpool’s transitional play, he’s bound to make a few mistakes. There’s no doubting he’s brought far more to the side than he took away with the mistake.
#LFC had this with Pepe Reina. A couple of mistakes and pundits started urging him to punt it 80 yards up the pitch. It was a bad mistake from Alisson but the only thing which needs work is knowing when to do it. If he starts lumping it, it defeats the object of his signing.
— Kristian Walsh (@Kristian_Walsh) September 1, 2018
Courtesy of another fast start, Liverpool had struck first-blood early on with a fourth goal in as many games from Sadio Mané. Robertson was heavily involved down the left, showing great tenacity to wriggle beyond a number of bodies and square to the Senegalese forward. Where Salah had failed to make his chance count earlier on, Mané would make no mistake here, lashing the ball into the back of the net.
Roberto Firmino, who hasn’t made the best of starts to the new campaign, was on hand to double the lead with a perfectly timed strike just on the stroke of half-time to assert Klopp’s early dominance. From then, you would’ve thought Liverpool would kick on and compound the home side to a heavy defeat.
Yet, it was Claude Puel’s side who came out swinging in the second forty-five while the Reds struggled to get themselves out of the dressing room, leaving a nervy last fifteen minutes for supporters to endure.
Henderson’s inclusion in the starting eleven ahead of Naby Keita raised some eyebrows while there was no place for Fabinho at all – a body that would’ve been useful as the pressure mounted.
As hard as Leicester pushed, bringing Kasper Schmeichel up for a late corner, Liverpool held their own, delivering the kind of win that shows the progression made and the optimism for a real title charge this year. They’ve yet to hit top form, either.