Leicester put a couple of days behind them to cruise past a woeful Liverpool side on Monday night.
A Jamie Vardy brace and a stunning 25-yard half-volley from Danny Drinkwater helped secure the Foxes a convincing victory against Jurgen Klopp’s men as the English champions came to terms with life after Claudio Ranieri.
Philippe Coutino’s second-half strike offered faint hope for the visitors but it wasn’t to be, with Leicester taking a confident step out of the bottom free.
Here’s five things we learned:
Foxes continue to baffle
It was the sort of performance that recalled to mind the Leicester of last season: simplified, direct and aggressive. With a revitalised Jamie Vardy leading the way, the Foxes overwhelmed a lacklustre Liverpool side from the very off. But how can this be the case? How can a group of 11 players go from potential relegation strugglers to giant-slayers in the space of four days. Has Claudio Ranieri’s dismissal really unlocked the side’s true potential and returned them to the Leicester of old, or is something more sinister afoot? With reports of backroom unrest doing the rounds prior to Ranieri’s sacking, tonight’s performance certainly attests to the suggestion that Leicester’s players had lost heart in the old Italian. Either way, there remains plenty of unanswered questions – but at least this is the first step in the right direction.
Vardy back on track
Jamie Vardy is back with a bang – as showcased by his opening goal. Breaking cover to meet a bisecting through ball, the forward pounced with lightning speed before calming beating Simon Mignolet at his near post to hand Leicester the lead. It was his second goal in as many matches and on the back of these last two performances, Vardy is one player you can’t accuse of not trying. Lack of service has deprived him of goal-scoring opportunities this season but the forward was in his element tonight, chasing balls, challenging hard and harassing the visitors’ shaky defence. Industrious, switched-on and scarily aggressive, Vardy looks back on track.
Liverpool’s mental block continues to hinder them
“Liverpool have been off for two weeks, what were they doing in La Manga?” asked Gary Neville at half time. Drinking and general gallivanting, it would seem. While they remain the only top-six side unbeaten against their rivals so far this season, their failure to get results off the league’s lesser sides has left them red-cheeked and frustratingly short of points. Such inconsistency has severely dented their title campaign and once again they showcased their inability to deliver against those teams outside of the top six. Sadio Mane was absent, Lucas looked out of his depth and Firmino failed to offer any dynamism in the final third. If Liverpool are to secure a spot in Europe, they must overcome this crippling, and perplexing, mental block.
Henderson’s absence hits hard
It was a night to forget for those Liverpool players tasked with defensive duties at the King Power Stadium. Lucas Leiva in particular struggled to deal with Vardy’s electric pace and found himself turned on more than one occasion throughout the evening. Joel Matip and James Milner were similarly ominous, offering little leadership and guidance at the back. Jordan Henderson would have undoubtedly brought a degree of purpose to Liverpool’s game tonight but his replacement, Emre Can, was simply unable to do so.
Ndidi channels his inner Kante
Wilfred Ndidi truly came into his own against Liverpool, putting in a Kante-esque performance against the Reds. Indeed, the midfielder made 10 successful tackles throughout the match – more than Liverpool’s entire defence – and enjoyed the most touches of the game. It was a commanding and asserted display that was vital in disrupting Liverpool’s forward game and, if tonight is anything to go by, suggests Leicester may well have found their man to fill the sizeable hole left by N’Golo Kante’s departure in the summer.