Liverpool 3 – 1 Leicester – The EFL Cup 3rd Round Postmortem
This initial game of the reds EFL Cup run was always going to be a tricky encounter, given Leicester’s current domination of their ongoing Championship season. It is very likely that the former Premier League champions will bounce back immediately (into the English top division), therefore, it was no surprise to see the new Foxes manager, Enzo Maresca, make substantial changes to his preferred starting eleven. In response by the hosts, a raft of changes was made following the reds weekend victory at home to West Ham, which meant that the common slow start was very likely. Jürgen Klopp’s men did not disappoint, as the visitors took advantage of their sleepy opponents in the opening minutes.
Liverpool concede first and then tally up 17.8 xG against Leicester. I see no issue.
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) September 27, 2023
The Starting Eleven
Curtis Jones (c)
Darwin Núñez – Ben Doak (64 mins)
Dominik Szoboszlai – Ryan Gravenberch (64 mins)
Stefan Bajčetić – Curtis Jones (78 mins)
Luke Chambers – Kostas Tsimikas (90 mins)
The First Half
Every postmortem must now start with how Liverpool failed to begin the match well, before falling behind to yet another early goal. The scampering nature of Leicester’s counter attack was expected as much as it was amusing. This current team will always give up a variety of chances, especially with the ongoing rotation and new patterns of play being implemented. With a couple of missteps, a potential foul on Kostas (no VAR) and an annoying number of red men left too up the field, the impressive McAteer was able to slot the ball beyond our bemused keeper, to score their only shot on target in the entire game.
The character and quality of LFC became a prominent factor almost immediately, which is at least a good sign of character. The domination and control of the fixture was telling, however, despite crafting various opportunities after going that goal behind, the half time whistle came with a surprising 0-1 score line intact.
The Second Half
You would imagine that repeated demands for more early resilience, would not continue to fall upon deaf ears. In defense of every Liverpool player, the performances were very solid throughout (in-spite of the goal) and the overall display must be taken as a positive. Wataru Endō had a couple of shaky on ball moments in the first half, yet he was able to dominate throughout the second period and now looks like a viable option for the first team. Jarell Quansah was a revelation from start to finish and the lack of a defensive recruit in the summer, appears to have unearthed a young man that could well achieve great things. Ryan Gravenberch was able to produce a sublime assist for Cody Gakpo’s equalizer, before the first flurry of substitutions brought a wonder strike from our outrageous number eight, Dominik Szoboszlai. In just a handful of games, the fanbase has fallen head over heels in love with the Hungarian captain, who has a physicality and skill set that is making him look like the signing of the Premier League summer. As the minutes ticked away, our jubilant support was gifted to one more piece of genius, as Diogo Jota back-heeled into the bottom corner, after a rampaging run from the 20-year-old Quansah.
This match up once again proved that the Europa League and Domestic Cup competitions, can offer the perfect opportunity to transition in a new group of players and systems. The lack of the high intensity Champions League (for a season) is allowing the Premier League eleven to attain vital rest periods, whilst so called back-up assets can be serviced with guaranteed starting roles in the secondary tournaments. Jürgen Klopp would have been overjoyed to see every player achieve a good match rating tonight, with another week of games supplying substantial minutes across the group, something that will only improve the tactical side of his plan. To march into the next round after such a convincing win, allows for continued momentum into the weekend and European tie next Thursday.
The cup draw sees Liverpool travel to Bournemouth next time around, with Liverpool now in with a solid shot of early season glory.
In 2022/23, it took Liverpool 13 games in the Premier League to pick up 5 wins.
This season, it’s taken just 6. We’re unbeaten in 17, Salah and Darwin are on fire, the midfield rebuild has been incredible and we’re breathing down City’s neck again.
What a massive improvement. pic.twitter.com/6DmBDrWq0W
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) September 24, 2023