Liverpool came from behind in unorthodox fashion to beat Leicester, but Virgil van Dijk inadvertently pinpointed a potential concern. This is what we spotted.
Liverpool had to turn to an unlikely source for inspiration, but they came back from a goal down to triumph over Leicester City. Even so, Jürgen Klopp will have been far from convinced with many aspects of the performance.
Virgil van Dijk was the heart of the most senior defence at Klopp’s disposal, but Liverpool were once again sliced apart for the opener. Nerves descended upon Anfield as the home side toiled for a breakthrough.
In the end it came from Leicester, whose two own goals turned the tide. Liverpool will be counting their lucky stars — although they can take away some positives from the performance too, one of which was vociferously identified by the Anfield crowd.
Here are the four things Liverpool.com spotted as the game unfolded.
Clean sheets have been a rare commodity for Liverpool this season. But whether or not it can be considered a silver lining, most of the goals conceded have come from systemic issues rather than moments of individual sloppiness.
Those same problems were still there against Leicester, but the biggest frustration was the looseness that seems to have seeped into Liverpool’s game since the win over Aston Villa. The sight of someone in red holding up an arm in apology was all too common.
Andy Robertson was a repeat culprit. He was very fortunate not to be punished for a loose ball into midfield, which led to a dangerous-looking break. At the other end, he spurned a rare clear-cut opening with an (admittedly unusual) loose cross, which ballooned harmlessly out of play. Both times, he offered a sheepish raised hand to his teammates.
Jordan Henderson, too, was forced to ask for forgiveness, fluffing his lines with the simplest of passes and letting Leicester in. Without their freak brace of own goals, it was hard to see where the breakthrough would come from — Liverpool should not have needed that to sharpen up.
Anfield makes point
As they come, it wasn’t the best day at the office for Wout Faes. By half time, he was on a hat-trick of own goals, having single-handedly completed a Liverpool comeback.
The first was inexcusable, particularly in light of Danny Ward’s audible shout to leave the cross to him. But the second was more understandable, with Mohamed Salah closing in and precious little time to decide how to deal with the ball.
Sure enough, Anfield made sure to hand out due credit. Rather than torment the young Belgian (who, it has to be said, was on the end of cries of ‘shoot’ for much of the contest), they met the go-ahead goal with a chorus of ‘Núñez, Núñez’.
Though he will not officially get credited with the assist, it was indeed Darwin Núñez who made the goal, rushing through and chipping the ball over Ward. It looked in all the way, but bounced agonisingly back off the post, only for Faes to turn heartbreak into hilarity.
Núñez will be desperate for more of these chances to drop in, but the Liverpool faithful will not really mind. As long as he keeps carving out goals by virtue of his chaos-inducing presence, he’s repaying that hefty price tag.
Van Dijk squabble
There was plenty to be concerned about in the manner that Liverpool conceded the opening goal.
For one thing, going behind is an unwelcome recurring theme of the season, one that fans will be desperately hoping is confined to 2022. But the sheer ease with which Leicester cut through is what really set alarm bells ringing.
Again, this is far from the first time the Liverpool defence has looked flimsy at best, with the midfield also having to shoulder some of the blame for the fashion in which Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall breezed through. Worryingly, though, nobody seems entirely sure of the fix.
That was clear from the response in the immediate aftermath. Van Dijk led the inquest, but everyone seemed to be shouting and gesticulating at each other, all at sixes and sevens. Until Liverpool can pinpoint what is going wrong, it will be very hard to set it right.
Thiago class shines through
With Fabinho absent from the Liverpool squad through personal reasons, Klopp had something of a dilemma. Plenty would have been in favour of Stefan Bajčetić, who has impressed in recent cameos, but the eventual line-up opted for no out-and-out defensive presence.
That placed an extra burden on Thiago, and he stepped up handsomely. Often overlooked in terms of his defensive abilities, he is a scrappy and effective presence in the centre of the park, even if he is something of a card magnet at times.
Against Leicester, he was imperious. Undoubtedly his crowning moment came with Liverpool a goal down in the first half, with a three-on-three break bearing down on him. He stopped the situation from worsening with a glorious challenge, before very nearly setting his side away at the other end with a raking pass.
That encapsulated his skill-set in a nutshell. When fit, he is such an asset to this team, and it is hard to imagine Liverpool getting three points in this one without him (and Faes).