Dominant Liverpool Hunt Foxes
Liverpool opened up a thirteen point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a 4-0 way away to second placed Leicester City.
A brace from Roberto Firmino, a James Milner penalty and a Trent Alexander Arnold goal crowned a performance of complete dominance, with the Reds imperiously lording over Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes.
After travelling back from Club World Cup commitments in Doha, there was a school of thought that the European Champions — who had to endure extra time in their final victory over Flamengo — would show visible signs of being jaded and could struggle against a Leicester team with 12 wins from their opening 18 Premier League games.
Right from the get go, though, Liverpool showed the gulf in class between the two teams and launched wave after wave of attack.
Only the final ball was lacking as Jurgen Klopp’s team completely neutralised the hosts with the high lined defence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez allowing the Reds to station themselves high up the pitch. The coordinated pressing of midfield trio Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum hemmed Leicester in their own territory and prevented any service to danger man Jamie Vardy.
With complete dominion of the ball, it felt like an inevitability that the table toppers would open the scoring and their moment arrived on the half hour mark.
From the second phase of a set piece from the left hand side, Alexander Arnold beautifully delivered a cross into the path of Firmino and the Brazilian powerfully nodded a header low and past the despairing Kasper Schmeichel. Such was the quality of the assist, if Firmino had missed the ball then Mohamed Salah, who was just in front of his strike partner, would likely have scored.
1-0 almost became 2-0 when Salah, released by a brilliant slaloming dribble and pass by Keita, rounded Schmeichel but was foiled by an increasingly narrowing angle and hit the side netting. The whistle to end the half sounded with the Reds holding their singular goal lead, a fact which represented the only down side in a half of excellence.
The second half began in similar fashion; Liverpool probing and in the ascendancy in terms of possession and territory but it took until the 70th minute for these efforts to be rewarded in the form of a goal.
A whipped Alexander Arnold struck the arm of Turkish centre half Çağlar Söyüncü in the box — who impressed throughout, despite being on the end of a humbling defeat — and referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Substitute James Milner, with his first touch of the game, then calmly dinked the spot kick down the middle of the goal to open up a deserved two goal lead for the visitors.
Two goals became three when Firmino, assisted by Alexander Arnold, delicately curled a shot into the top right corner after a beautifully crafted team goal. The ball was worked wide, through Milner and Firmino, to Alexander Arnold and the academy graduates fizzed cross picked out the Brazilian in the box. Evading the attention of Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira, the number 9 composed himself after a cushioning first touch before lifting the ball past Schmeichel.
With the bedraggled hosts now flagging and demoralised, Liverpool added their fourth goal and no player was more deserving of it than Alexander Arnold.
A surging Sadio Mane run through the heart of the Leicester defence had the hosts back peddling and the Senegalese forward found Alexander Arnold with a pass just outside the box and with a strike reminiscent of Steven Gerrard in his pomp, the young Scouser emphatically found the bottom left corner.
With two assists and a goal, the 21 year old was the standout player as the Reds held on to their clean sheet — their fifth in six games — and claimed what could be a huge win come next May.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutions: Origi for Salah, Lallana for Henderson, Milner for Keita.
Subs not used: Adrian, Williams. Shaqiri, Jones