It would be difficult to give Liverpool much credit for their 2-1 victory over Leicester City, with the Reds putting in a tepid performance on the night and counting on a pair of own goals by their opponents in order to come out ahead. Still, at the end of the day sometimes a win is a win, and after a difficult start to the season this side was due a lucky result.
Winners and Losers
Trent Alexander Arnold
Everybody agrees Alexander-Arnold is the game’s best creative force from the fullback position, but the Liverpool right back regularly faces his share of criticism—sometimes fair but more often not—for his defending. Tonight reminded everyone just of how good he can be off the ball as one of the Reds’ few truly standout performers. In addition to most of the Reds’ best attacking play coming through Trent, Harvey Elliott, and Mo Salah on the right, Liverpool’s number sixty-six was flawless off the ball.
On the flip side, another player who often faces unfair criticism won’t have done himself any favours against Leicester, with Henderson having a sloppy night both on and off the ball as his turnovers led to a number of Leicester chances and the captain was too often worked past far too easily on the break. Add in that Elliott spent much of the game pushed high up the pitch and it meant that Thiago was at times left to play midfield seemingly on his own—something he managed to an admirable level but which nevertheless left the Reds looking outmanned.
Dissecting the Narrative
Darwin Nuñez continues to be the most Darwin Nuñez, which is to say that he continues to do pretty much everything you’d want a striker to do—and to do it at a truly elite level. Except that he does it all while mostly failing to score. Liverpool’s agent of chaos had five shots, three big chances, set up Salah for his best chance of the night, created one own goal, and was a constant threat involved in everything good for the Reds. At times he was dominant. At times it seemed as though it would be harder for him not to score. And in the end he somehow came away no goals (or assists) to show for all the hard work.
As long as he’s creating those chances—both for himself and, increasingly, for others—and as long as the underlying stats look solid we’re not going to worry too much. But goodness would it ever be nice if some of those chances started to drop so that we could stop talking about Darwin missing chances and just focus on all the good stuff he does.
Giving Credit to the Opponent
Shout out to Leicester City centre half and David Luiz impersonator (gotta respect the hustle) Wout Faes. We couldn’t have won that one without you, buddy.
What Happens Next
No matter how poor the game might have been, given the way Liverpool’s season was going up until the World Cup break, you can’t turn your nose up at back-to-back Premier League wins coming out of the restart. At times in the first few months of the season it felt as though every piece of luck went against Jürgen Klopp’s side. It’s nice, then, to have a bit of luck finally go their way as was the case against Leicester—and thanks to that luck, they end the day just two points off the top four.
Still, they’ll need to be better in upcoming league outings against Brentford, Brighton, Chelsea, and Wolves—with another game against Wolves in the FA Cup sprinkled in—as the kind of performance they put in against Leicester isn’t going to be enough to get them back to where they want to be this season.