A Drinkwater goal sandwiched between two Vardy strikes proved to be enough as Leicester beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Premier League on Monday.
In their first game after the sacking of former manager Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City showed the fans in attendance at the King Power Stadium a shade of their old selves as they put in a spirited performance against Liverpool.
Jamie Vardy, who was the focal point of Leicester’s attack last season, recorded a brilliant brace on either side of Danny Drinkwater’s exquisite long-ranged effort. Phillipe Coutinho did manage to pull one back for Liverpool, but the Foxes held on to pick up the three points.
Here are the Hard Tackle’s talking points:
Leicester show up only four days into the post-Ranieri era
Where was this performance when Claudio Ranieri needed it?
This is the one question that flummoxed many a football pundit after looking at the Premier League match on Monday night. Leicester put in one of their performances of the season, and dominated Liverpool from the opening whistle.
It was a display contrary to what the Foxes’ fans and Ranieri have seen all season long. Leicester have looked like a shadow of their Premier League winning selves from last season. The players suddenly began to play with a higher urgency and it appeared that the hunger in their bellies had finally returned.
If Leicester play the way they did against Liverpool for the rest of the season, they may leave the relegation zone long behind and probably challenge for a top-half finish. A lot of work is yet to be done, but they do have the capability to do it.
Liverpool face a further setback in their quest for a top four berth
A win on Monday would have seen Liverpool shoot up the standings into third place, ahead of Arsenal and Manchester City, who have both played a game less than the Reds. They also failed to extend the lead over Manchester United, who are only a solitary point behind them, sitting in sixth place.
With the league now at its business end, teams on either side of the table cannot afford to slip, and that is exactly what Liverpool have been doing over the last few weeks. They need to get their act together before it is too late in the day for them.
Ndidi creme de la creme for the Foxes
The departure of N’Golo Kante in the summer has led to Leicester looking for answers in the middle of the park as the likes of Nampalys Mendy and Andy King have failed to fill in the void left by the Frenchman.
This has eventually seen Leicester struggle as they are now facing a battle against relegation. However, they received some hope due to Wilfred Ndidi’s scintillating display last night.
He was signed by Ranieri in January, and has equally become Leicester’s most influential player. In fact, he has averaged seven defensive actions per game since the turn of the year – a feat only bettered by Hull’s Tom Huddlestone (Squwaka).
He was also in top form against Liverpool as he made a total of 9 tackles and 6 clearances and won an impressive 7 aerial duels. Shakespeare or any manager who takes over should do everything they can to ensure that his performances don’t take a dip.
Lucas starts despite the availability of Klavan
Ragnar Klavan was watching on from the sidelines as Lucas struggled at centre-back along with Dejan Lovren. Together, they were torn to shreds by Jamie Vardy and co. and made the Reds faithful look on in awe.
The English forward had a considerable pace advantage on Lucas, and he had a field day facing him especially in one-on-one situations and fifty-fifty balls. Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher also questioned Klopp’s decision to field the defensive midfielder.
According to This is Anfield, he said: “I have sympathy for Lucas, he isn’t a centre-back. Lucas should never be playing there. He doesn’t have the skill-set for the position and he’ll always get found out there.”
Klopp needs to make some changes before it’s too late in the day
Sadio Mane returned recently from international duty, but barring one game, he has failed to maintain consistency. The same can be said about Philippe Coutinho since he came back from injury. Despite scoring the goal against Leicester, his impact in front of goal has diminished considerably.
Klopp knows that he needs his attackers to tick if he is to manage in the Champions League next season and it is essential that his front men stick to the basics and put in the performances that are expected from them.