Carabao Cup: 5 things we learned from Liverpool's defeat to Leicester
Leicester 2-0 Liverpool
Liverpool have been left ruing missed opportunities after dominating large parts of a Carabao Cup match against Leicester City on Tuesday night that they eventually went on to lose 2-0.
The Reds had made much the brighter start to the game, enjoying long spells of possession in the Leicester half, but failed to capitalise from their 13 attempts on goal in the first-half.
Andy Robertson was Liverpool’s most threatening outlet, linking up well with Philippe Coutinho who so often found himself with time and space between the home side’s midfield and defence.
With Coutinho’s exit at half-time – presumably with league and Champions League action on Klopp’s mind – Leicester began to come into it in the second period.
The Foxes made that switch in momentum pay as they opened the scoring through Shinji Okazaki, who bundled one in from 12 yards out not long after coming on as a substitute.
Islam Slimani then all but put the game to bed with a sumptuous strike into the top corner from 20 yards.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
Is Klopp feeling the pressure?
Did Jurgen Klopp really want to win the Carabao Cup? Or was he trying to use Tuesday night’s third-round game to try and play his side into some sort of form after three consecutive drab results? Either way the German was clearly feeling the heat when he named the likes of Jordan Henderson, Coutinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a relatively strong starting XI.
Liverpool are trophy-less since 2012, when they won this competition, and getting their hands on some silverware again would not only appease the fans, but reduce pressure on Klopp and give his players experience of winning something. At least that was the plan. The performance tonight sadly let him down.
Countinho shows his value
The Brazilian playmaker was reportedly valued at over £200m by Liverpool this summer as Barcelona did everything they could to prise him away.While that is an obscene amount of money by anyone standards, Coutinho reminded us tonight why his club were so desperate to keep him.
The 25-year-old was one of Liverpool’s best players in the first-half, posing a constant threat in behind the midfield but keeping himself too far out of reach for their defenders to come and close him down.
Against such determined resistance he looked the most likely to conjure something and it was a surprise to see him come off as a half-time substitute for youngster Ben Woodburn but surely Klopp wanted to keep his star man fresh for Premier League and Champions League duty in the next seven days.
Demarai Gray needs to do more talking on the pitch
The winger attracted interest from Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur
The young winger has been outspoken in his frustration at a lack of opportunities since moving to the East Midlands and his desire to secure a move elsewhere in the summer.
Given a chance tonight, he appeared to be trying far too hard to impress.
He made a determined run early on but took on a shot from too far out and his meek effort was easily collected by Danny Ward. He then made another bright dart to goal but his cross was wayward and easily collected again. A second-half free-kick within shooting distance was similarly underwhelming.
While he undoubtedly possesses talent, as he lively runs at defenders showed here, he must provide more end product when given opportunities like this if he wants more time in the first team.
No reason Roberston should be out of the team
Klopp has switched between Robertson and the much derided Alberto Moreno at left-back so far this season despite the former being brought in as a supposed first choice.
Tonight he showed exactly why he deserves an extended run in the team, finding lots of joy going forward and whipping several wonderful deliveries in that his teammates really should have finished off, particularly early on.
He wasn’t tested much defensively on the night but, as we have seen from Moreno’s three year career at Anfield, he can’t be any worse than his Spanish colleague in that department.
Leicester benefit from half-time
The Leicester boss would have been happy to get to half-time with the score at 0-0 but in truth that scoreline flattered his side.
The Foxes were dominated by Liverpool in the first-half who should really have scored a couple given the amount of possession (76 per cent) and territory they enjoyed.
Their most fruitful avenue of attack came down the left flank where Robertson found himself with acres of space to run into and fizz balls into the box.
Thankfully for Shakespeare, Liverpool’s forward line failed to break the deadlock – and he went in at half-time with the opportunity to switch things up.
Leicester came out much the better side at the start of the second-half, with Coutinho’s exit being of particular benefit, and clinched those two vital goals through Okazaki and Slimani.
Independent News Service