England Premier League: Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool
Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater seal first win after Claudio Ranieri Sacking: Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool
2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City lifted themselves out of the relegation zone into 15th place on the EPL Table with an extraordinary, brilliant, superb, performance, reviving the club's winning spirit of last season in their first match since Italian Foxes' boss Claudio Ranieri was fired. Liverpool could have gone third with a win against Leicester, but instead remain fifth with the loss, fourteen points below league leaders Chelsea and a point behind fourth-place Arsenal having played a game more. Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare was abruptly put in charge for the match with the shocking result that his side moved into 15th – out of danger. After a long Premier League drought, Leicester defeated titan club Liverpool 3-1 with two goals from Jamie Vardy and one spectacular goal from Danny Drinkwater. Perhaps with his success against Liverpool as evidence, Shakespeare should be hired on a long term basis. The Reds seemed overwhelmed while watching their chances of the league title gone and hopes of finishing in the EPL top four and qualifying for the Champions League next season diminished.
The fully committed Foxes’ team stunned fans by snapping a run of five straight defeats, sparked Premier League survival hopes, and sunk the Reds with their fierce style and energy, as they closed down Jurgen Klopp’s lackluster Liverpool players and in general were extremely difficult to play against. Leicester City’s victory was more a display of eleven fantastic, revitalized football players than a display of great tactics on Monday night. The questions remain, Why did things go so bad this season under Ranieri? What was going on with Leicester previously? And why was there not the same commitment under their former Italian boss? Popular sixty-five year old Ranieri was sacked last Thursday, only nine months after he held the Premier League trophy in his hands after Leicester’s fairytale title win in 2016. Foxes fans honored him with banners, face-masks, a standing ovation, and a light show in the 65th minute of the game. Some supporters were left angry by the club’s abrubt decision to sack him.
One banner read, “Thank you Ranieri for making our dreams come true! Dily Ding, Dilly Dong! We’re sad Claudio’s gone!” “I thought it was a lovely touch,” remarked Leicester’s temporary manager Craig Shakespeare, Ranieri’s former assistant. “I thought they got the balance right. They got behind their own team from the word go. But it was a lovely touch in the 65th minute. The players commented about it after the game” Liverpool goalie Simon Mignolet was tested three times in the first 20 minutes as he was peppered by the hosts. A redeemed Jamie Vardy opened the match scoring in the 28th minute with his first-half goal that was the Foxes’ first EPL goal in seven matches – as well as their first in 2017. Liverpool who have won only one of their last seven league matches replied through Philippe Coutinho.
Leicester City’s energetic and aggressive squad was the same XI men that won the title except for the addition of Wilfred Ndidi and absence of N’Golo Kante. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side looked like only a shadow of the club that seemed to be a serious contender for the Premier League title this campaign earlier in the season. Against Leicester, Klopp replaced Ahmed Musa with Shinji Okazaki after The Reds 2-1 Champions League loss to Sevilla.
Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Chilwell, King, Amartey, Slimani, Zieler, Gray, Ulloa.
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho. Subs: Karius, Moreno, Klavan, Stewart, Alexander-Arnold, Origi, Woodburn.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Young)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Kloop was hard on his side in his remarks after The Reds thumping by Leicester. At one point in the season Liverpool was current league leaders Chelsea’s main title threat – but after dropping points against Leicester City, Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea City, and Hull they have no one to blame. Except perhaps themselves after their partying at training camp in La Manga. Klopp remarked that before the match with the current EPL champions, he told his side to expect an “emotional” display from Leicester, so there was no excuse for his men’s lackluster, passive, performance. Liverpool is now under heavy scrutiny after having won only two and lost six of their 12 games to date in 2017. “We knew how Leicester would play, go back to their roots,” said Klopp. “We could have done much better. We let them be the Leicester of last year – that’s our fault. We should get criticized! This inconsistency makes absolutely no sense.
It’s getting more serious now! We all play for our futures – myself included,” added a fuming Klopp. “We get judged every day – especially on match days of course. Performances have influence on these things. I don’t think they aren’t as good as I thought, but I think they need my help more to show it every week. When we lose, I feel maximum responsibility because I am. I hope I use the word “we” and not “they” because I’m involved in this. It’s not the moment to make assessments like this especially not in public. But I try to say the truth as often as possible. But bad performances don’t help anyone, that’s clear. It was not good enough at the beginning. It was not good enough in the middle, and it was not good enough at the end. To date, Liverpool are out of the EFL Cup and out of the FA Cup. After 55 games in charge of Liverpool, German manager Jurgen Klopp has 94 points compared to Brendan Rodgers’ 97 points. If The Reds continue at their current rate, they are on course to concede 50 goals again this season, and no longer are rated as the most successful club in England football.
In a surprise turnaround engineered by caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare Wes Morgan and Robert Huth were winning headers, Ryad Mahrez was alive with desire and attitude, Marc Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater looked unstoppable, Kasper Schmeichel was sharp, and Jamie Vardy was in form as he broke an eight game personal goal drought in the 29th minute scoring past Simon Miggnolet from Marc Albrighton’s through ball. Drinkwater slammed in the Foxes second with a stunning 25-yard shot, and Vardy headed in the third before Philippe Coutinho scored a consolation with 21 minutes to go. Gary Nevill said, “Liverpool played right into Vardy’s hands. What teams have done all season in terms of denying him space behind, going deep, Liverpool split the full-backs and left a very slow center-back on the left-hand side in Lucas Leiva exposed and he actually had the space to run into. It was poor by Liverpool, because they forgot how teams played against Leicester this season.
Shakespeare said he was ready to take on the Leicester manager’s role full-time after being at the helm of an impressive 3-1 win against titan club Liverpool. In his debut match as caretaker manager, Shakespeare was promoted from his former role as assistant following Ranieri’s surprise dismissal last Thursday just nine months from Leicester’s 5,000 to 1 odds Premier League title victory. After the game Shakespeare was asked by the media his thoughts about taking over the manager’s job at Leicester, and what he thought would be Claudio Ranieri’s reaction to Leicester’s turnaround.
“So I think I’m capable of it? Yes. Does it faze me? No,” said Shakespeare at the King Power stadium. “But it’s the owners who decide, and they’ll do their diligence and look. I think it’ll take its course. They’ll sit down and I’ll try and prepare the team as rightly as I can for Hull unless told otherwise. “That’s football!,” Shakespeare replied. “Knowing Claudio, he will say That’s football. He said that to me on Thursday night and reminded me of that on Friday morning.” Next Leicester face Hull City at home. If they win, Shakespeare will probably be confirmed as Foxes’ boss until the end of this season. Liverpool will continue their fight for a top-four finish as they host mighty Arsenal at Anfield.
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