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Leicester City News 10 Dec 2020
A To Z - Leicester City







A is for Arthur



The club's all-time record goalscorer is Arthur Chandler, and his goals fired Leicester to within a point of the league title in 1929. In the early 60's they also had another top goalscorer, Arthur Rowley, whose 434 league goals is an all-time British record. In fact, in their top 10 of record goalscorers, three of them are called Arthur and all three scored more goals for the Foxes than Gary Lineker!







B is for Bible



Leicester were established by a bible class in 1884. It was 21 years after the creation of the Football Association and the founders established a committee, paying 9d to join and a further 9d to buy a football.







C is for Chocolate



Leicester Fosse's strip when they first entered the Football League was chocolate brown and blue halves. Prior to that they wore black tops with a sky-blue sash and long white trousers rather than shorts! It was 1903 before they switched to the colours they are now known for of blue and white.







D is for Doubles



Twice double winning English sides opened the door for Leicester to compete for a trophy. In 1961 they lost the FA Cup final to double winners Tottenham Hotspur, but due to Spurs being in the European Cup instead, they were England's entrants in the European Cup Winners' Cup. In 1971 the Foxes won their only Charity Shield as double winners Arsenal had commitments in European competition and so were unable to compete. Leicester beat the FA Cup runners up, Liverpool, 1-0 with a goal by Steve Whitworth.







E is for Europe



While Leicester City may not have had much European success of their own yet, European football did provide their one and only Charity Shield win. In 1971, as the winners of Division 2, they were invited to play FA Cup runners up Liverpool as double winning Arsenal's European commitments meant they were unable to take part. The Foxes won it 1-0 courtest of a Steve Whitworth goal.







F is for Fosse



Leicester City were initially called Leicester Fosse. That was because of the Fosse Way, an old Roman thoroughfare, that ran from South West to North East England. One of the founders, Frank Gardner, said at the time: "As the Fosse is known throughout the land, so the new club shall be known to the future." Their first match took place just off Fosse Road South against Syston Fosse.







G is for Goals



When you see a goal has been scored by Leicester now, you can be almost certain it has come from the boot of Jamie Vardy, but he is just 4th (currently) on their list of top goalscorers ever. Top is Arthur Chandler with 273, second is Arthur Rowley with 265 and third, quite a way behind those two, is Ernie Hine with 156. Vardy's current total (as of 20th November 2020) of 139 leaves him trailing behind.







H is for Heroes



There is no other word for the 2015-16 season Premier League winning team in Leicester than heroes. So much so that their only Ballon d'Or nominees since the great Gordon Banks, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, received their nominations while playing in that side. Mahrez also won the club's only PFA Player of the Year that season, Vardy the clubs only ever FWA Footballer of the Year. Manager Claudio Ranieri also won the Overall and Premier League LMA Manager of the Year and Best FIFA Men's Coach. The team itself also won the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year and ESPN Team of the Year awards, the only time they have won either award.







I is for Ice Kings



In the 1962-63 season the Foxes' team was dubbed the "Ice Kings" as they led the old First Division through the winter due to excellent form on icy and frozen pitches. They ended the season in 4th. The form was probably due to the management of Matt Gillies, who implemented a system based on the style of play used previously by the great Austrian and Hungarian teams.







J is for Jamie



For years there was only one goalscorer anyone thought of when the name Leicester City was mentioned, arguably he is also the club's most famous supporters, Gary Lineker. Nowadays he has been supplanted in most people's eyes by a new goalscoring icon, Jamie Vardy. Despite coming late to professional sport from the non-league scene, Vardy's exploits make him a legend at Leicester and took him into international football with England. The big question is, at the age of 33, how much more is left in the tank?







K is for King Power



It was 2010 when King Power owner Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club from Milan Mandaric, with it then in the Championship. Sadly he died in a helicopter accident alongside four others outside the club's stadium in 2018 but the club's ownership remains in the hands of his family, with his son Khun Aiyawatt the current chairman.







L is for Lineker



Gary Winston Lineker is arguably the club's most famous ever youth product, due to both his exploits with England and his later career in broadcasting. Lineker was with Leicester from 1978 until 1985, when he signed for reigning champions Everton. He hung his boots up after scoring 48 goals in 80 appearances with England.







M is for Midland



The newly formed Leicester Fosse club joined the Midland League in 1891 before being elected to Division Two of the Football League in 1894.







N is for Nine



When the club founders set up Leicester Fosse, they formed a committee and paid 9d each upon entry and a further 9d to buy a football.







O is for O'Neill



Martin O'Neill established his reputation as a manager with a spell at Leicester City in the late 1990s. O'Neill led Leicester to four consecutive top-10 finishes and twice into qualification for the UEFA Cup as well as a League Cup win.







P is for Problems



In October 2002 Leicester went into administration following their relegation from the Premier League, though they still managed to get back up into the Prem at the end of that season.







Q is for Quit



The club's motto is "Foxes Never Quit" which is written above the player's tunnel entrance.







R is for Ranieri



The man who led them to their one and only, so far, league title was Italian Claudio Ranieri. They were rated by the bookies as 5000/1 against to win the Premier League before that 2015/16 season kicked off.







S is for School



The founders were a group of former pupils of Wyggeston School, then a grammar school for boys but now a sixth form college in Leicester.







T is for Thailand



The club is owned by a consortium led by the Thai owner of the King Power Group. The Asian Football Investments consortium which owns the club (which former owner Milan Mandaric is an investor in) is based in Thailand. The club's main shirt sponsors are the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the sleeve sponsor is a Vietnamese beer producer called Bia Saigon, which is owned by ThaiBev, which is based in, yes you guessed it, Thailand.







U is for Unbelievables



The Leicester team which won the 2015/16 Premier League title is often known as 'The Unbelievables'. It was the highest odds winner in sports for most bookmakers, as they were a team that had only narrowly avoided relegation the previous season. Their fans are still celebrating the title now!







V is for Victoria



The club's first settled venue for matches was Victoria Park, which they used between 1884 and 1887 before a move to Belgrave Road Cycle and Cricket Ground.. Unfortunately for the then Leicester Fosse team, Leicester Tigers Rugby Club outbid them in 1888 and they were forced into a shortlived return to Victoria Park.







W is for Walnut



The club's longlasting and famous Filbert Street home stadium was originally known as the Walnut Street Ground. They moved there in October 1891 and stayed there until 2002, when they moved to their new purpose-built stadium, which they still inhabit.







X is for Xenocracy



Leicester have been run by foreign owners since 2007 when Milan Mandaric bought the club from the consortium, led by Foxes' legend Gary Lineker, which had saved it from administration in 2002.







Y is for Yagiment



There must have been a huge sense of excitement around the club in 1981 when manager Jock Wallace announced that Johan Cruyff was close to signing for the Foxes. However it had been a ploy by the Scotsman, trying to force Cruyff's hand while in negotiations which had initially seemed promising, but were now looking like a forlorn hope. Wallace's side were bottom of the old First Division and Wallace believed that bringing in Johan Cruyff, even at the age of 33 after a couple of years playing in the United States, would save the club from relegation. Cruyff instead for signed for Spanish club Levante who sweetened their offer with (reportedly) up to 50% of gate money.







Z is for Zagorakis



As well as winning 120 caps for his country, Theodoros Zagorakis also played for Leicester City between July 1997 and July 2000, when he left for AEK Athens on a free transfer. The midfielder, who is now retired and president of PAOK Salonika, managed 59 games after eventually making his debut under Martin O'Neill in February 1998.







To read the previous A To Z: ChievoVerona click here.


 

 

Leicester City News 08 Dec 2020
Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers A Liverpool Perspective









Another of those excellent performances that seem to be dragged out of the depths when things are looking bleak. Though it must be said that the game was a fairly even contest, except for Wolves looking a little on the toothless side without a genuine striker to play through. It is beginning to feel like Klopp could put almost any combination of 11 players out and they would be a match for anyone.







Wolverhampton Wanderers





Wolves started well, with a clear gameplan, but they are not adapting all that well to a back four and it is causing them problems. Adding that to no Raul Jiminez up top and the loss of the outball to Docherty that was so important to their play and it is quite a worrying time for Wolves in their quest for regular European football. The lack of any creativity and forward running from their midfield means all the attacking impetus comes entirely from wide areas and is much easier to defend now that they no longer have the aerial prowess of Jiminez or Doherty's late runs into the box. Adding that to their struggles defensively with a back four and this looks like a season of transition to a style that suits the players they do have.



Coady's mistake and later dive were turning points in the match, as the first Liverpool goal made Wolves look ragged in their attempts to get back into the match and the dive drove Liverpool onto really put this game beyond doubt. However, there really was little to show Wolves had any cutting edge. Traore did what he always does as a starter, has a couple of flashes of brilliance before putting the ball into an area miles away from any of his teammates (often row z of the stand) and generally offers very little. They really need Silva to find his feet fast.







Liverpool





Klopp - he always finds a way. I cannot remember a single game under Klopp, even last season when the title was won, where the players have not tried. There were a few games last season where you could see they were still mentally celebrating the title, but none where they were not trying to win. It is such a rare skill that he has to get players to give their all for him and to stand together when all is going wrong. This season has been one of remarkable management from Klopp and cemented him as one of the all-time greats. 65 unbeaten at home and scoring in 40 games in a row at home in the Premier League is an incredible achievement, especially when you consider the difficulties of this unusual season. I doubt anyone else could have reached this level.





Kelleher - or should that be Kellher? Whichever of the guys (as there is a team of kit men these days) was responsible for the error must be embarrassed by that bless him! Kelleher looks assured, confident and comfortable with the ball on either foot. The worry is that he looks far too good to be a back up and you have to wonder how long will he be willing to be an understudy. That is something for another day though, as he is still young enough to work with Alisson and learn from him in training. In this game Kelleher did well dealing with the balls played into the box and made one good save too. He is looking impressive.





Williams - after a bad start, with another silly foul and booking early on, he grew into the game and played well, even at the start of the second half when Traore was shifted over to try and attack him. Admittedly he was given a lot of protection by the midfield, Wijnaldum in particular, but it would have been easy for him to fall to pieces after that early error. It looks like he can learn, but now Williams just needs to not put himself into trouble in the first place.





Matip - he is looking like the rust is falling away and his all-round game was much more like the Matip of last season. Plus he scored a towering header. Now he just needs to stay fit!





Fabinho - early on he made the error of selling himself in the challenge against Traore, though at least he did it away from the box, but after that he was once again excellent. It is easy to forget that he is playing out of position.





Robertson - another outstanding performance from Robertson. This season he has been immense and Tsimikas must be wondering how on earth he will ever get a run of games. There were times last season when he looked a little tired, this season, even when carrying knocks, he just looks tireless. Robertson has also stepped up his overall game, his link up play in particular is excellent this season. He and Mane work together so well.





Jones - a very disciplined performance from what is still an inexperienced youngster. Jones showed that he is capable of making things happen in attacking areas but that he can also provide protection to the defence. I was very impressed with his work when Wolves had the ball.





Wijnaldum - started off in the holding role, then switched to the right and gave Williams excellent protection. He looked like a player playing for a new deal and was right at the top of his game and he scored, something he does need to do more of. Especially goals that good, as it was a fantastic team move with a great finish to cap it off. It was one of his better games for Liverpool. It was also interesting that he was the one given the armband when Henderson went off.





Henderson - had an excellent game and was once again the driving force the team needed. The team might not win every game when he plays, but you know that he will never allow them to turn one in the way some other teams do. After Leicester City's title win, for example, you could see half the players thought they had done all they needed to and would barely break sweat. That will never happen while Henderson is the captain, he would not allow it.





Mane - at times his footwork was sensational. Semedo was being torn apart. It is the first time this season that Mane looked to be hitting top form. You always know when he is doing well because you actually feel sorry for his opponent as they are being made to look silly. His link up play with Robertson is particularly good.





Firmino - finally hitting form, with a couple of lovely nutmegs thrown in for good measure. It has been a difficult season for him but even on a bad day he makes the team play better. On a day like this, Firmino runs the game and brings everyone into play.





Salah - looked sharp, scored and got an assist with a lovely ball into the box for Matip's header. You have to give him credit for being there to score from Coady's mistake as well, many forwards, particularly wide ones, would have given up and not been there to pick it up. Not Salah, he was there to put pressure on Coady and hoping to force an error.





Alexander-Arnold - replaced Williams in the 68th minute. So good to see him back and delivering a beautiful ball in for the final goal. It was like the icing on the best birthday cake ever.





Jota - came on for Firmino in the 73rd minute. The game was pretty much over, but he looked determined to put it beyond doubt and worked hard to try and get involved.





Keita - gave Henderson the chance to have a rest in the 81st minute. He joined a game that was done, so it is impossible to really judge his performance.


 

 

Leicester City News 29 Nov 2020
By The Numbers - Part 3: Leicester City





185 The Foxes new training facility is being built on a 185-acre site. All of Leicester's teams will be based on the site which previously housed Park Hill Golf Club.





11 This is Leicester's 11th time in the top flight of the English leagues.





1884 Leicester City was launched in 1884, beginning life as Leicester Fosse, named after the famous Fosse Way road that runs nearby.





4 They have reached the FA Cup final four times in their history but never actually won it.





2010 Leicester were bought by a Thai consortium led by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who became chairman the following year.





1891 Leicester moved to their Filbert Street home, where they spent the next 111 years.





1919 Following the end of World War 1, Leicester Fosse were stricken with financial problems and were taken over by a new company 'Leicester City Football Club'.





7 The Foxes have won the English second tier a record 7 times under its various names.





3 The League Cup has made its way back to Leicester 3 times.





2002 Relegation in 2002 was followed by a period in administration.





41 Leicester City have had 41 different managers so far.





78,000,000 The record transfer fee received by the Foxes was £78m for Harry Maguire from Manchester United on 5th August 2019.





40,500,000 The highest fee ever paid was a little over half of that received for Maguire when Youri Tielemans made his loan move into a permanent one from AS Monaco in 8th July 2019.





1 The Foxes have one Charity Shield in their trophy cabinet from 1971.





222 Muzzy Izzet holds the record for the most appearances in the Premier League for Leicester with 222. Though England striker Jamie Vardy is fast closing in on the record with 219 as of 26th November 2020.





110 Speaking of Vardy, his fairytale story shows no sign of coming to an end yet, he is probably the club's best-ever player and the club's top scorer ever in the Premier League with 111 goals as of 26th November 2020. Second is Riyad Mahrez, who has 39.





34 The club record for assists in the Premier League is held by Steve Guppy, with 34 which no doubt all came from his excellent crosses. Vardy is once again second in this with 30 as of 26th November 2020.





90 The most Premier League wins is surprisingly not held by Vardy, but instead Kasper Schmeichel, who has won 91 games while in the Leicester side. Vardy is close behind with 90 though as of 26th November 2020.





600 Graham Cross is the man with the most appearances in a Foxes' shirt with 600 made between 1961 and 1975.





414 While Muzzy Izzet may (just) hold the record for the most appearances in the Premier League, he is a long way behind the overall club record for top tier appearances. Though many do not realise league football actually did begin before the creation of the Premier 'Greed Is God' League in 1992, Graham Cross set the club record for top flight appearances in the 1960s and 1970s.





528 The overall league appearance record was set a few years earlier than that by Adam Black in the period between the two world wars with 528. The Scot made 557 appearances overall to sit second in that particular club record.





59 Graham Cross is again the man when it comes to appearances. His FA Cup appearance record is 59, with no one else even coming close to reaching 50 in the FA Cup so far in a Leicester shirt, it looks like it will be a record he will hold for a very long time to come!





40 For once Cross has a peer, when it comes to League Cup appearances Steve Walsh has made the same number. Walsh played for the club between 1986 and 2000, in a time when it seemed like they were always in the running to win the League Cup in its various guises.





61 In the 1991-92 season Gary Mills set a club record by making 61 appearances in total. 46 in the league, 3 in the play-offs, 2 in the FA Cup, 4 in the League Cup and 6 in the Full Members Cup.





331 Surprisingly, considering the number of games he played for the Foxes, Graham Cross is beaten to the consecutive appearance record by Mark Wallington. Between 1975 and 1982 Wallington did not miss a single match!





19 The longest spell at the club very nearly reached 20 years, as Sep Smith was on Leicester's books between 1929 and 1949 for a total of 19 years and 249 days.





15 The Foxes youngest ever player was Ashley Chambers, who made his debut in a match against Blackpool in 2005 aged just 15 years and 203 days old.





43 Mark Schwarzer was nearly three times as old as the youngest ever player when he faced Hull City in 2015 aged 43 years and 21 days old.


 

 

Leicester City News 23 Nov 2020
Liverpool v Leicester City A Liverpool Perspective







Once again Liverpool faced Leicester at a time that really was not good for Liverpool with all their injuries and missing Mo Salah. Once again Liverpool made the Foxes look second rate, which they clearly are not. It must be pointed out that Leicester were fairly badly hit by injury, though they did still have most of their first choice players to choose from, only Ndidi, Soyuncu and one of Pereira or Castagne would most likely fit into the team. What it showed is that Leicester are still missing a lot of pieces from a championship-winning side, in a normal year, as they have not replaced Chilwell effectively.



It was an exceptional performance that showed that Klopp's talk of 'mentality monsters' is true. The more things go against them, the more they step up and the better they play. Lose 3-0 to Barcelona and no Salah for the second leg? No problem, even when Robertson goes off injured. This was a similar level of performance. It was dominant and demoralising for Leicester, just like last Christmas (how many of you are now hearing the Wham! song go round in their head now?!?) when a jetlagged Liverpool team destroyed the then second-placed Foxes.



It was the kind of performance that champions need to produce on a regular basis, if they are to hold onto the title. However, there is still a long way to go this season and, with yet another injury to contend with, there is only so much that can be done to patch the team. Wins like this will go a long way towards covering up for any injury problems as this was the kind of result that puts fear into future opponents. Just when there is a sight of a chink in the armour, the team goes and does this.



This is the way to go about building the kind of feeling of invulnerability that Liverpool had in the 80s, which saw them pick up their last league title until Klopp, even when the team was not really good enough to deserve it. It creates an aura that sees a number of opponents expect to lose and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when their heads drop at the slightest setback. It is just one game though and that must be remembered.









Leicester City





They just had no answer to Liverpool's pressing and their attempts to drop off and draw the defence out did create a few moments for Vardy to counter, but the pressure on the ball made most of the balls inaccurate. They were not given time and space at all, mistakes were forced out of them and that increased the pressure as they were once again trying to chase shadows.



Tactically Rodgers made a huge mistake, he left Firmino free to go where he wanted. No doubt he had been looking at the stats, which suggest Firmino is not performing and never looked any deeper to see why it was so. Every game has seen opponents try and shut him down, to work on keeping the ball away from him as much as possible and ensuring Firmino never got any time and space when he did actually get on the ball. Every game until now, that is. As usual, when given time and space Firmino's link up play lifts Liverpool and allows them to play the way they want to.



It is the same as ever with Rodgers, he just has not quite got the tactical nous when it matters. The Foxes could really do with looking at getting someone in to analyse opponents and how to neutralise them and get at them. I am not sure who is doing that for them at the moment, but it is clear that they are getting it wrong far too often. It led to them falling away last season and it could well do the same again this season if they are not careful. I am not meaning just prior to matches, but someone to be there during the game to give Rodgers help when changes are needed mid-game. Someone within his close staff that he will listen to.



There were a couple of good signs for Leicester to get comfort from, Schmeichel played well but his distribution under pressure was poor. Fofana was excellent on the ball but his defending was rash, a real show of inexperience as he constantly sold himself trying to win a ball he was never going to get to. They also did get chances to launch a counter, but made a mess of the passes under pressure.







Liverpool





Klopp - what can you say? Once again Klopp has dragged a performance out of a Liverpool team that made it look like it was a first-choice team firing on all cylinders. The squad is so well coached and drilled that they can just be shuffled around to suit need on the day and it all works like a well-oiled machine. 64 unbeaten at home in the league in a row tells its own story. The one thing that does need working on is corners, the delivery was poor except for two or three good balls. Considering two of the goals came from those few good corners, it would be worth trying to ensure the frequency of good deliveries increases.





Alisson - when called upon, he was there. His quick feet and excellent starting position made a big difference to the game. It made it that much more difficult for Leicester to put a ball in behind the defence as he condensed the space available. Made an excellent double stop at one point, though Vardy should really have been flagged offside.





Milner - was brilliant at right-back, playing some excellent, incisive passes and winning the battle there with Barnes. Just when you think you are getting a handle on where his best position is, Milner puts in a performance like that and you wonder if just maybe this is where he would have been best all along. When he moved into midfield, he was just as good. He must be a dream for Klopp to work with.





Matip - started the game looking a bit rusty and allowed himself to be dragged into midfield leaving a gap in behind a few times. In the second half, whether by instruction or he was finally waking up, he dropped off with a runner, rather than chasing into their half trying to win the ball, and saw out the danger. Though, just as I was noting it down he then went and gave away a needless corner with a mistake! I do think it is rustiness though, his passing is not quite there and nor is his touch, two parts of the game he normally excels in, I expect them to come back as he shakes off the rust with a run of games.





Fabinho - an excellent game, Vardy barely got in the game and that was in large part due to him. The few times Matip got drawn out of position, he was always there to cover. He has slotted in as a centre-back like he was born to play there. At times he had that imperious quality of van Dijk at his best.





Robertson - absolutely outstanding again. Poor Tsimikas is really going to struggle to get a run of games with Robertson in this form. His link up and partnership with Mane works so well and his delivery for Firmino's goal was a great cross. It was noticeable that in the warm up he and Milner were the two doing all the talking, they were clearly talking through what everyone needed to go and getting them fired up. He is having the season of his life.





Keita - started off with a weak challenge, but then grew into the game and was much better on the ball than usual, closer to the Keita we hoped for. He did play one particular nice ball down the side to Mane which completely took Fofana out of the game. Still not doing his job well off the ball though, a lazy foul after being caught out of position is not something to be lauded, though it is an improvement. In the past he would have not even bothered to commit the foul, so it is a step forward, but there is a lot of potential to get better. The big problem is that, as usual, he is unable to stay fit. In a season like this one that is a problem as there are just too many players with similar problems in the squad. Unless he starts to do more when he is fit, to earn his place, there is little point having such a financial drain at the club.





Wijnaldum - played the deeper role, which is not really his ideal role, but it was a case of needs must. Despite playing out of position, he stepped up and put in a very good performance. Together with Jones, in particular, he shut down the Foxes midfield and forced Leicester to look longer than they wanted. When Leicester shifted to a back four, he was forced to do a bit more defensive work, but he did it very well and gradually took back control of the midfield.





Jones - involved from start to finish at both ends of the pitch. Showed good movement, worked back well to help break up attacks and was generally very good on the ball. A very impressive game from him.





Jota - tied Fuchs up in knots and had the Austrian looking leggy by the end of the first five minutes. Some of his movement was exceptional and he linked up really well. I have never been convinced by him playing from the right in the past, but he showed he can play there and play it to a very high level. I can think of no higher compliment than that he made sure we did not miss Salah. Evans was almost constantly being dragged across to cover and Jota fully deserved his goal. Arguably the best player on the pitch and yet another goal to make it 8 in 12 games (4 in 7 in the Premier League) is making it impossible to leave him out.





Firmino - played really well, his press was back and he was everywhere linking up the play. It did seem like he was cursed not to score until it finally went in for him. You have to give him plaudits for his persistence, it would have been easy to just give up trying and look for the pass. Leicester will be rueing giving him so much time and space.





Mane - absolutely destroyed Fofana time and time again. The Leicester defender ended up making desperate lunges to try and cut off the ball, rather than just trying to deal with Mane after he got it. It was clear that Fofana knew Mane had the beating of him and was just avoiding a head-to-head with him at all costs. His link up with Robertson is particularly good.





N. Williams - replaced the injured (again) Keita in the 54th minute. Fine going forward but worried me when in the defensive third as he dithered on the ball and allowed Leicester to close off the options. It was clear they realised he was a weak link and targeted him for a full press. He got away with it, but he needs to be more decisive and move it forward more quickly when deep in his own half. Better to just put it in behind them and allow the team to push up, rather than dally and allow them to apply a press when back there.





Minamino - came on late in place of Jota. The game was petering out and, while he worked hard he was unable to make an impression in the short time he had.





Origi - was brought on to replace Mane in the 89th minute as half of a double-substitution along with Minamino. Barely got into the game.


 

 

Leicester City News 10 Nov 2020
Manchester City v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective







Unusually in this period of football with no fans in grounds, this was a high-intensity match in the first half, but it was clear that the players had nothing left for the second half. What was an exciting game of two sluggers throwing everything at each other looking for a knockout blow petered out into two worn out leg weary fighters at the end of a fight who have punched themselves out. By the end it was looking like both teams had settled for the point.



The two penalties were always going to be given, a handball is always subjective and Gomez did pull his hand away but, though it was smashed at him, there was a bit of distance which meant the referee was always going to give a penalty. Harsh? Definitely, but there are a lot of those given, so it is no surprise. The other one was a foul, though it must be said I have seen a few of those missed by the officials in recent months. Even with the arrival of VAR, they are still incompetent and clueless about the game.



Overall it was a fairly even game, though I feel that Liverpool shaded it, that could just be my personal bias at play, so I would not put much store in that feeling. The surprising thing was the lack of clear cut chances, there was nothing like as many as you would expect in a game between two teams with such potent goalscoring threats.







Manchester City





I have to say City disappointed me, they look a shadow of the team they were, for me that is mainly down to the loss of David Silva. With him in the side they kept good possession, moving the ball around quickly but without turning it over. Without him they struggle to keep hold of the ball for extended periods and that is no doubt contributing to the rise in goals against them. One of the main ways a Guardiola side defends is by keeping the ball for lengthy periods, moving the opponents around. When the opposition does get the ball, they are often needing a breather after chasing after it for 10 minutes and so unable to mount a meaningful attack.



They finally have a defence worthy of the name, something that has taken Pep a lot longer to sort out than it should have, but their midfield and attack now look weaker than they have been in a long, long time. It feels like a team in transition, something which is incredible when you consider how much money has been spent in the last few years. Maybe even more incredible is that this is a squad that is still fully capable of winning the league and arguably the strongest in the Premier League!



The other big question, I suppose, is whether Jesus meant the touch for the goal? His reply when asked after the match was that of a player that did not mean to do it and I do feel that there was no way he meant the ball to end up where it did. However, in my opinion, that just shows good instincts and reactions to reach the ball first and put it away. In other words, whether he meant it or not, it was a great striker's goal.







Liverpool





Klopp - it is probably harsh to criticise him, I fully understood why he chose the team he did, but I think he needs to start looking at rotation of the front 3, rather than just removing a midfielder. It did work, particularly in the first half, to a large degree, but it requires so much more work and meant players were playing out of position. It might well be that he just did not want to take the risk of one holding when Fabinho is out, as none of the rest of the team can cover defensively to his level.





Alisson - a good performance from the Brazilian, he exudes calm, even when rushing 40 yards out of the box to head a ball clear. His decisiveness is very important to a team with aspirations of retaining the title.





Alexander-Arnold - once again not at his scintillating best, but clearly it was fatigue as he pulled up in the second half with an injury. Losing him for a lengthy time would be a huge blow, not just is he a great player, but even when not playing well he draws the focus of the opponent's defence too him.





Matip - he just looked like a player coming back off a long injury, extremely rusty, slow to react and in need of games. So, despite his passing being absolutely abysmal, I am not too worried as we know he can do so much better once he gets going. The only real worry is keeping him fit.





Gomez - a decent performance from Gomez, but only decent, still a way off his best, but that could be down to playing alongside a different partner again, one who was way off the pace. One thing that has impressed me is his willingness to look for those diagonal balls van Dijk specialised in. Like van Dijk, they do not always come off, but it shows he is looking to change the point of attack and about how to create, rather than just making the easy pass sideways or backwards. If there was one major criticism of him when he was playing well, is that tendency to take the easy pass too often. Both Matip and van Dijk have the vision to look for the more incisive pass, Fabinho was often dropped back when chasing a game as he can too. It is a big bonus if Gomez adds it to his armoury as well.





Robertson - just about the only player that looks to be unaffected by the lack of a pre-season, he has been on it since the season started and is still playing really well. His link up with Mane is exceptional. But, he does tend to stand off a bit much and allow crosses.





Henderson - not his most effective game, struggled to establish control of the midfield as City outnumbered Liverpool massively in that area. Had a quiet second half.





Wijnaldum - struggled after a really good start, looking really leggy and was unable to make any of his bursts forward from midfield. Looks in need of a rest by the way he faded as the game went on.





Jota - he is allowed a poor game after his recent performances, but this was particularly poor. I do have one major worry with him, his game seems to consist of him creating chances for himself, when at his best. I really cannot remember him playing anyone else in or doing anything to help build an attack. That might be due to still learning how to work with the others, but it is a real worry as he becomes little more than a hindrance when not playing well. It is something I would like to see him work on as, for all the criticism of Salah being greedy, Salah and Mane contribute heavily when not playing well. I really do not think playing on the right suits him and he very rarely offers width out there, usually coming in far too early and so giving time for the defence to adjust and leave no gap for the Liverpool right-back to attack.





Salah - his touch was off and he looked out on his feet at the end, but he never stops going at the opposition, or gives them a moment's peace. He also keeps running at teams in the box which caused the penalty award, plus he is clinical with putting them in the back of the net.





Firmino - started well but also faded out of the game. It was telling that after he went off Liverpool created almost nothing and struggled badly to keep any control of the ball. Even an out of form Firmino is key to the way Liverpool play and Klopp needs to find someone else who can provide something similar in the middle. Really needs to make more of his chances, especially when breaking through against just the keeper, though Ederson did do very well.





Mane - looked much more like his old self but he did allow Walker far too much space to get forward. If the system is going to play with the four forwards in it, the wider ones have to be more diligent about keeping the opposing full-backs pressed back.





Shaqiri - came on for Firmino in the 59th minute. After a number of good performances in midfield, Klopp decided to stick with his system and bring him on to play on the left. A mistake in my eyes as we needed his vision and range of passing in the centre without Firmino there. He struggled to get into the game.





Milner - replaced the injured Alexander-Arnold in the 63rd minute. As usual he came in and gave a no-nonsense all-action performance. Milner really is the man that can, no matter where he is asked to play, he just can do it.


 

 

 

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19 Nov 2015 14:18:00
OK, it looks like Vardy might well be able to play, so the question becomes, will he score and end up breaking the record?