Analysis: Foxes misfortune, fist-pumps, and familiar Liverpool fragility

Alan O’Brien 

Celebratory quintuple fist-pumps — for the cameras, natch — are all well and good. Requesting more reserve from one’s five midfielders, to defend a seemingly unassailable lead, is probably wiser. No prizes for guessing which box Jurgen Klopp ticked.

LEILIV

While José Mourinho has rediscovered his score-first-and-we-win mojo, his German counterpart never had it to begin with.

A Philippe Coutinho-inspired two-goal lead, inside 23 minutes, only looked secure for the 15 that followed. And that’s before you consider the frights engendered by Leicester City’s surprisingly high-block.

Dejan Lovren was forced into two early errors by chasing Foxes. As was Simon Mignolet, when Jamie Vardy’s pressing coughed up a big chance for Shinji Okazaki.

Channel-balls directed in behind Joel Matip were also bearing fruit for the hosts. Vardy should have converted a 6th-minute example, after Okazaki collected a long-pass in behind a temporarily-holding Emre Can.

Eventually, on the stroke of half-time, another example indirectly halved Liverpool’s lead. Matip’s stupid recovery-foul on Vardy forced Mignolet to save the striker’s flicked-header from the resultant free-kick. Okazaki, holding Mignolet illegally in the goalkeeper’s natural home — no man’s land — netted from close-range.

The Japanese striker turned the midweek Carabao Cup game between the two sides too; his introduction inspiring two second-half set-piece goals — an all-too-familiar Achilles heel for Klopp’s zonal-marking aficionados.

Harry Maguire won the initial header on this occasion, but the summer signing was absolutely woeful with ball at feet. Maguire’s possession-loss, deep in Liverpool territory, allowed the visitors to counter-attack into the space the ex-Hull City man vacated.

Klopp’s main strength as a coach lies in plotting the kind of rapier-quick attacking transition that Jordan Henderson finished. Five fist-pumps stamped the exclamation marks on a wonderful move. But what followed, within 90 seconds, was all too predictable.

With both Liverpool full-backs exposed, substitute Demarai Gray drifted in behind an over-covering Alberto Moreno to meet Marc Albrighton’s back-post cross.

Vardy nodded in the seconds, to complete an attack that started with a quickly-taken halfway-line free-kick for which Liverpool were woefully unprepared.

And, just hours after a Mourinho 6-3-1 stymied Mauricio Pellegrino’s late 4-2-2-2 roll-of-the-dice, Klopp’s defensive shape soon betrayed him again.

Andy King was gifted the time and space to play yet another channel-ball in behind Matip. Vardy was fouled by Mignolet, missing the resultant spot-kick to spare Klopp his second chaotic 3-3 draw of the season.

Belatedly, around the 75-minute mark, the German ordered his side to sit deeper in a more reserved 4-5-1 shape. The Leicester chances dried up. More fist-pumps at the final-whistle, but a lesson learned? Unlikely.

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