Liverpool, England – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised his team’s response after watching them earn a dominant 3-0 win over Leicester on Sunday despite a rash of injuries that left the club without eight first-team regulars. The win moved the reigning champions into a tie with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League.
Liverpool was without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who were all out with injuries. The team’s top scorer, Mohamed Salah, missed the match due to a positive coronavirus test.
That didn’t stop the Reds from sweeping aside a Leicester team that started the weekend in first place to stretch their unbeaten run in league matches at Anfield to 64 games, a new club record.
“Very (satisfying), because we deserved it 100 percent,” Klopp said. “The boys played an incredible game against a top opponent. Playing them like that tonight, I do not take for granted. The boys were on fire.”
James Milner again proved his worth as a utility man as the 34-year-old filled in at right-back and midfield after yet another injury, this time to Naby Keita, in the second half.
Milner also provided two assists from corners.
Diogo Jota became the first Liverpool player to score in his first four league matches at home when he headed in a perfect cross from Andy Robertson.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel kept his side in the match by making a series of second-half saves, notably against Sadio Mane and Jota.
Roberto Firmino thought he had been denied just his third league goal in 24 games when his shot came back off the post and his follow-up was cleared by Marc Albrighton. But Firmino rounded off a brilliant team performance by rising high to meet a Milner corner.
“What people say about him is ridiculous,” said Klopp, responding to calls for Firmino to be dropped for Jota when Salah returns.
“You cannot be closer to the goal than he was tonight. It was exactly the right goalscorer. We were so happy for him, he played outstanding tonight.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has now lost all three meetings against his former club and just like the previous meeting between the sides, which Liverpool won 4-0 in December, the Foxes were shown the gulf they have to bridge to become title contenders.
Leicester, which had won six straight, fell back to fourth, two points out of first place.
“First half, we were too passive in our play,” said Rodgers. “To concede two goals from set plays is disappointing.”
Before kickoff Liverpool paid tribute to former goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who died at age 72 after a long battle with prostate cancer this week.
Elsewhere, Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe, who was signed for a club record €80 million in the offseason of 2019, continues to do little to justify that price tag.
The Ivory Coast international was handed just his second start in the league this season in an away match against Leeds and failed to take his chance, getting a red card in the 51st minute for headbutting left back Ezgjan Alioski in an off-the-ball incident.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta saw his players battle — while riding their luck at times — to eke out a 0-0 draw and didn’t mince his words about Pepe’s conduct.
“It is unacceptable. Unacceptable,” Arteta said. “At this level you cannot do it.”
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