Liverpool 1-0 Leicester City: Reds respond in greatest manner possible

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If Jurgen Klopp asked Santa Claus for his Liverpool side to perform on Boxing Day, he certainly got his late Christmas gift.

The Reds' recent form has been far from good enough, having scooped just one point from a possible nine previously.

Good Response

Liverpool's performance away at Watford last week was as close to the definition of lacklustre as possible. They were second best to everything and the Hornets could have quite easily had more than three goals at Vicarage Road. Liverpool's temperament and desire to succeed was questioned by many and they had plenty of critics to answer.


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A big effort all round was required against Leicester City and the Reds duly obliged.

The Foxes have been the biggest surprise in an unpredictable season being league leaders and they've been ruthless both home and away. Liverpool had a serious task ahead of them against a team who've been renowned for their unity, which has been a key reason why they sit at the summit of the table.

Claudio Ranieri has sincerely switched the fortunes of Leicester from pre-season relegation candidates to genuine title contenders. Beaten just once at the hands of Arsenal, Leicester travelled to Merseyside for the second time within a week hoping they would have the same outcome as when they beat Everton 3-2 just across Stanley Park.

Neutralising Duo

The duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been in incredible form and built themselves a stellar reputation.

However, Liverpool did not allow the visitors to play and were better in every aspect of the game.

Both Vardy and Mahrez ended the game sitting on the bench having been substituted as the Reds did not give the pair an inch and it was the first time Leicester did not score in a match all season.

Dejan Lovren has had his fair amount of critics at Anfield, but his performance was near faultless. Making his first appearance since returning from injury, the Croatia international was both calming and commanding in the heart of the defence.

He was constantly on the look out for Vardy, giving the ex-Fleetwood Town man little room to utilise his bundle of pace and sneak around the back which so many teams have fallen victim to. Lovren was also confident on the ball, something he's lacked previously, and played several threatening long balls.

Vardy had an off day, likewise Mahrez, who was thwarted by Nathaniel Clyne. Clyne had an unusually poor game against Watford but he bounced back to standard procedure. He clattered Mahrez early in the match with a strong challenge, letting the Algerian feel his presence early on. The tone was set and the former Southampton full-back continued to use his physical attributes to win battles out wide, as well as bombing on forward.

Captain's Performance

Liverpool needed a leader to take charge at Anfield and captain Jordan Henderson duly took to the challenge. His energy was brimming even more so than usual and Henderson was up for the game from the very first whistle.

N'Golo Kante has been highly influential in Leicester attacks this term, being the key link between attack and defence when countering. Henderson made keeping tags on Kante his principal target and the England international did not let his opponent move. When Kante went galloping with the ball at his feet on two occasions, Henderson's desire and commitment won it back for his side.

With Henderson and Emre Can both sitting slightly deeper, Klopp deployed an attacking four of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi. It was a welcomed move, much more positive than we've witnessed previously.

Coutinho's enthusiasm was distinctly evident in the first-half and he curled a few efforts just wide of the post and Adam Lallana also hit the side netting.

Origi Threatening

Origi has seemingly surpassed Christian Benteke in the pecking order and he played with a point to prove. The ex-Lille man was busy up front, offering his team the sufficient movement they've been crying out for in recent weeks.

Origi's effort could not be faulted and he began to get the better of Wes Morgan, and left the Leicester captain for dead in a battle of pace but his shot was denied by Kasper Schmeichel. Unfortunately, Origi was yet another in a Red shirt who fell victim to a hamstring injury and limped off seven minutes before the break.

Better From Benteke

On came Benteke, fresh off the heart-to-heart chat he had earlier in the week with his manager. A goal would have topped his Christmas list and again, Santa delivered.

The Belgium international looked short of confidence but his strike in the 63rd-minute will have certainly helped him restore some faith. Firmino was a passenger once again for the most part, but one out-of-form player assisted another.

Benteke's finish was based purely on strikers instinct, and his stretched right-footed effort took it beyond Schmeichel.

The 25-year-old should have doubled his tally in the closing seconds of the match when Schmeichel went up for a corner and Liverpool hit on the counter attack. Benteke took far too long to pull the trigger when he also had the support of umpteen team-mates and Morgan managed to get back and block the effort.

Liverpool next meet relegation-threatened Sunderland on December 29. Sam Allardyce will be looking to question the Reds' unity, much like he has done down the years, and make the match a physical tussle.

Klopp's side were well below par when they travelled to the north east earlier this month against a team battling relegation in Newcastle United and he knows Liverpool will have to be much better this time around.

Can Liverpool still make the top four? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Christian Benteke
Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Leicester City

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