Never Lose The Faith !

City 1 Liverpool 0

Report by Ian Bason

As LCFC fans made their way to the stadium, most would have accepted a battling performance but no addition to the points total against a full strength and rested Liverpool side, given our list of absentees mainly through injury.

Talking of injuries, my seat at the ground remained empty, missing the game due to self-isolating as a close relative is staying with us in the run up to an operation, so viewed via Amazon (more on that later)

The line up saw the return of both Ndidi and Vardy, although neither believed to be fully fit, alongside starts for Castagne, Soumaré (in the deeper role of a diamond formation) and Choudhury (right side of the diamond), with Tielemans rested following conceding 2 penalties 48 hours earlier.

The game started as many feared with Liverpool well on top and it began to feel a question of how long rather than if they would score, however our players were putting their bodies on the line, in particular Amartey and shots were coming from outside the box.

However, in the 14th minute, Ndidi overstretched making contact with Salah and a penalty was given and quickly confirmed by VAR. Given Salah’s success rate from the spot, it was a relief when he hit it low but at a saveable height and unlike Schmeichel’s last penalty save, Salah’s rebound header hit the bar and was cleared.

It would be too early to say fans suddenly believed this would be our night, but the volume of noise generated from this point onwards, was highlighted by Chelsea Women’s Manager, Emma Hayes, in the after-match Amazon coverage saying how significant the LCFC fans had been on the night.

Liverpool remained on top for most of the rest of the first half, but other than Schmeichel’s best save of the night, tipping Salah’s shot from close range over the bar, and further Henderson volleys all of which were off target, the defence held firm.

We did have two first half chances, Vardy’s shot being blocked by Matip and then Maddison miscued when he had more time than he realised.

Half time and goalless but a good game to watch, reflecting at half time I was thinking how strong we looked on the left-hand side, where Thomas and Dewsbury-Hall were combining well (given they were facing Alexander-Arnold and Salah this was impressive)

In the 52nd minute, Dewsbury-Hall played a beautiful, curved pass which I’m sure Vardy would have converted had Tsimikas not managed to get a toe in to divert the ball beyond Vardy. Liverpool then had their best chance of the second half when Mane got free centrally but with Schmeichel making himself as large as possible, Mane managed to clear him and the bar too.

Brendan Rodgers then changed to a 4-3-3 formation, bringing on Lookman and Tielemans, with Maddison wider right. Lookman was quickly into the action, instantly looking lively and keen to run at Liverpool (perhaps spurred on by his goal two days earlier, but also playing in his preferred wide left role)

With the left side now even stronger Thomas passed to Lookman, who turned and fed Dewsbury-Hall, they then both moved at considerable pace, with the ball returned to Lookman who jinked into the penalty area and then took a quick low shot which beat Alisson at his near post. 1-0

The 4-3-3 quickly seemed to morph into a 4-5-1, as we aimed to hold onto the lead. Concerningly Maddison went down with a calf injury and had to be replaced by Albrighton, so when Vardy went and stayed down not long afterwards, the prospect of seeing out the game with 10 men was looming, however Vardy soldiered on, although I suspect if Brendan’s recent request to return to 5 subs being allowed had been granted, then Vardy would have come off. The line-up against Norwich will tell us if this was costly.

For the rest of the game. Liverpool pushed for an equaliser, the closest attempt being a Van Dijk shot which Schmeichel blocked with his foot at the near post, while two headed chances from corners for Jota and Mane both went wide.

The tactical defending of corners was the other most notable event of the night, as the zonal marking was finally ditched, with the man-to-man instructions given to our best defenders of crosses, while we had players on the line. It worked very well, all involved looked far more confident

The 5 minutes of added time passed without any further scares and 3 points were secured

The Amazon post-match review panel of Alan Shearer, Emma Hayes and Thierry Henry all praised Leicester highlighting Dewsbury-Hall and Thomas’s performances, although match summariser Ally McCoist gave MOTM to Schmeichel. Social media today has been full of various amusing images relating to Salah being in the pocket of Thomas.

A positive night, but with Evans and Söyüncü being stated as around 3 weeks away from a return and the realisation that Amartey and Ndidi will both be at the African Nations Tournament after the Norwich game, it is certainly a challenge for Brendan to find another central defence pairing to keep a clean sheet.

Leicester: Schmeichel; Castagne, Amartey, Ndidi, Thomas; Dewsbury-Hall, Soumaré, Choudhury (Tielemans 56), Maddison (Albrighton 68); Iheanacho (Lookman 56), Vardy. Subs (not used): Ward, Daley-Campbell, Nelson, Vestergaard, McAteer, Pérez

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho (Milner 64), Henderson (Firmino 70), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita 55); Salah, Jota, Mane. Subs (not used): Kelleher, Konate, Gomez, Jones, Beck, Williams

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation