Frozen Foxes Hold Liverpool to 1-1 Draw
Liverpool came into the match against Leicester with an opportunity to create a massive gulf between themselves and, best club in Europe, Manchester City. Rafa Benitez had done his part on Tuesday, beating City 2-1, but with injuries mounting and weather worsening, would The Reds be able to take full advantage?
The line-up from Klopp was more confusing than inspiring. The shortage at right back was always going to call for something non-standard, but Klopp came out with Naby and Gini as a midfield-two and Jordan Henderson at right back. Once the match started the shape of the team was always going to be hard to discern with players sliding all over the place and the ball leaving frozen trails of ice on the Anfield turf.
The fastest players are even more dangerous on a sloppy turf and Sadio Mané wasted no time testing that theory as he struck a low effort into the left corner, leaving Gray in his wake. Fine efforts from Bobby Firmino and Sadio again in the ensuing minutes might have given Liverpool supporters the impression that this would be a run-away affair.
However, it turned into a frozen slog as the match wore on. The out of form and out of position midfielders looked it at times, but Liverpool held their 1-0 lead as the half wore on. Robertson found Mané again with only Maguire to beat and the England centre-back could do nothing put pull him back. The incident would be the first in a series of curious calls from the ref as Maguire escaped with a yellow just ahead of the break.
Instead of Maguire going off with a red, he remained on the pitch and, as fate would have it, found the back of the net in added time. Problems from corners seemed to be a thing of the past, but this one was only cleared to the edge of the area where Chilwell was waiting to head back to Harry Maguire for the simple finish; 1-1 at half-time.
Just minutes into the second, Ricardo clearly tripped a rampaging Naby Keita as he wound up on a strike but Martin Atkinson somehow pocketed his whistle. What might have been for the former Leipzig man had his trailing leg been left unimpeded.
Mane would have more chances as the match wore on, getting caught by Hamza Choudhury on one effort and heading another wide in injury time. The additions of Fabinho, Lallana and Sturridge didn’t seem to have much impact on the match. That was more to do with the sloppy track than anything Jurgen Klopp could control.
Mo Salah was pushed over as he crossed into the area late in the match. Atkinson blew, but only for a free kick which didn’t result in much with Trent and Shaqiri both looking on from the stands.
Officiating, weather and injuries all conspired against Liverpool on this frigid January evening. The good news is that even with all of that going against The Reds and a quality opponent they still managed to increase their lead over City to 5 points.
On the whole this could have been an even better Wednesday, but things still look pretty good from the top.
Up The Reds!