After a slightly slow start on Monday night, Liverpool kicked into gear as the two Scousers in the team scored all three goals (with the help of the Reds’ Egyptian King on all of them) and went home from the King Power comfortable winners. Now join us as we examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions in the aftermath.
Winners and Losers
The Curtis Jones mafia are eating well tonight. Jones has been stringing good performances together of late, really seizing the opportunities given after returning to fitness. His finishing was very striker-like, and we’ve started seeing some joy from the late back post runs that provided for his first goal today. His positioning, runs, and decision-making were spot on today, and strong finishing certainly never hurts.
Jones is growing in confidence and maturity, and seems to relish the tactical system Liverpool are transitioning into — which has also been a promising move for someone else I could mention. Forza the Young Scouse Boys.
Fans of Bobby Firmino and the Bobby Firmino song will be happy to learn that the traveling support sang the song for 11 straight minutes during that second half. Eleven minutes. What fun.
And the gift we didn’t know we needed? The rendition after full time that Firmino got to bounce around with as well (credit to Curtis Jones for doing a big run to get him into dancing; for a bit there it looked like Firmino didn’t want to suck up all of the spotlight).
This is your fair warning to get out the tissues if he’s fit enough to feature at Leicester.
There’s something that the Kop wants you to know… pic.twitter.com/YhfqCcSFfe— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 15, 2023
Leicester City being taken seriously. Off the pitch there was “God Save the King,” “Feed the Scousers,” “F*ck the Scousers,” and some Hillsborough chanting. All their own team got was Boos. Earnestly wonder what they sing about when they don’t play a side from Liverpool.
Of course, after our third goal the Leicester team to a man looked like they were ready to hear the full time whistle, so fair dues. Never seen a result less in doubt, even before Trent Alexander-Arnold picked a corner to place the ball in. I have a very sensitive dog, and he fell asleep on about 30’. Not a serious football team, and certainly not one trying to fight relegation.
Deeply dire watch if you’re a Leicester fan, though I suppose this is why they’re not bothered to sing about their own team.
Dean Smith’s complaints on the officiating certainly garnered no sympathy here. At this point, we understand how VAR offside calls work, and complaining about a VAR decision as though they’re subjective is a bit too “2018: VAR is new and not really understood” for me.
And if we want to talk about the subjective decision that led to the free kick for Liverpool’s third? Well, a manager has to complain I suppose, but I find it hard to believe there can be complaints when a player goes over the ball and into an opponent. If Henderson doesn’t jump that’s getting reviewed for a red card.
What Happens Next
Well, Liverpool have guaranteed European football for the next campaign, having mathematically clinched the Europa League for the 2023/24 season (apologies to Conference League hipsters). It’s not the same draw or financial reward as being in for the big cup, but we could be performing at Chelsea’s level still, so.
If you wanted to make an argument, you could point out that Liverpool haven’t won this competition under Jürgen Klopp, so it presents the opportunity to win something new.
Manchester United have lost two and drawn one in their last five, and have three left to play: Bournemouth (A), Chelsea (H), and Fulham (H). Though none of these are difficult games, none of them are easy. United are currently one point ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand. Should Liverpool win their final two games, we want Manchester United to lose two, draw two, or lose and draw one each of their remaining games.
It would be objectively funniest if both United and Liverpool finish on 71 points (our maximum, their total if they win one and draw two), allowing Liverpool into the top four on goal difference. This way, our 7-0 (and other true drubbings they’ve earned this season) will well and truly matter in the table rather than just for our own personal delight.
Alternatively, we can hope Newcastle, too, falter at the end of the season. Newcastle sit in third on 66 points as well, above Manchester United on goal difference. The Magpies drew their last game, conceding two goals to a struggling Leeds United. Their next match is at home to Brighton, who looked to be in flying form after a blip against Everton (of all teams). The Seagulls are themselves fighting for European football, and have something to prove either way; expect this to be a test for Newcastle, even with their fans behind them.
The rest of the Newcastle remaining schedule resembles Manchester United’s: they face Leicester City — and after today’s showing we can’t expect much of anything here, especially as Leicester might confirm relegation in the interim — and then they travel to Chelsea on the final day. Is it likely that we win out and either of these two “bottle” top four? Well, no — but then again, only one of these three teams has had to play for perfection under immense pressure at the end of a season, and it’s our lads.
Anyway, I’ve always been into Chelsea FC, me.
Dissecting the Narrative
While Leicester did not prove themselves to be the toughest test today, the Reds nonetheless registered their third straight clean sheet. Since defending has been rough this season, it has been good to see a bit of calm at the back, with even the recovery runs looking planned rather than panicked. While Leicester have usually struggled, they tend to create some chances (they just give up a lot of them as well), and Liverpool dealt really well with the specific challenges Leicester brought.
Liverpool held Leicester to just four total shots today, with an xG of just 0.54 (per FotMob). Conversely, Liverpool managed 16 total shots, 12 from inside the box, wracking up an xG of 2.04 (can anyone believe that Mohamed Salah put his 1v1 wide?). That’s an incredible disparity, and the game felt like this as well. Liverpool were in control, if not holding the match in a full-on chokehold.
While Dean Smith can do his best to take pressure off his players by having a big moan about the referee, his other statements on Liverpool’s fitness and levels are closer to the story of the game: the decisively better team decisively won.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect: Klopp wanted more control from his side in the 20 minute period starting around 55’, for instance. In that period, though, all that really happened was that Liverpool FC got some film to study and improve on and the immense traveling Reds had a nice big sing along.
So. Alisson header to seal it again then, the plucky Reds?