Liverpool defeated Leicester City in a comfortable and entertaining victory, with plenty of positives to take away.
The arrival of Luis Diaz to Liverpool’s attacking ranks has given them an immediate boost.
Despite Sadio Mane’s absence following Senegal’s Afcon victory and Mohamed Salah’s absence from the starting lineup, the front line still looked strong thanks to the new arrival.
It tells a lot about how highly the coaching staff, as well as the recruitment team, regard him that he is trusted so soon — something that isn’t usually the case with new signings.
Jota started on the right tonight, but his goal from a set piece was typical of a natural striker. He’s a genuine first-choice striker option through the middle, giving Klopp a variety of front-line options.
For those three forward positions, Liverpool now has six players to choose from. And they have a player in Minamino who has been very useful in the absence of Mane and Salah, and who won’t mind being the sixth option now that they’ve returned and Diaz has arrived.
The acquisition of Luis Diaz has given this a new depth. He’s quick and skilled, and his full range of technical abilities will be revealed throughout the course of the year.
Though there were plenty of other impressive moments in this win, and a number of names who could be mentioned for having good moments, it was Jota’s finishing that ultimately won the game.
Not only that, but his movement, runs, and positioning in this area of the field ensure that he’s always ready to score, even if he hasn’t done much else to that point.
He’d barely been involved prior to his first goal. Only Alisson and PatsonDaka had played with fewer touches.
When Roberto Firmino was replaced in the second half, he shifted to the centre position and scored another goal thanks to a run through the middle on Joel Matip’s wonderful ball.
Salah, without a doubt, would have preferred to start tonight’s game. He’s the type of player who wants to get back on the field as soon as possible after a setback like losing the Afcon final.
We’ve seen and heard how much winning that competition means to Mane, and how much losing it means to Salah in the opposite direction.
He eventually had to settle for a spot on the bench against Leicester and a second-half appearance, which was probably wise of Klopp given the amount of time his star forward had in Cameroon. Salah, on the other hand, didn’t take long to pick up where he left off in Liverpool. He put Kasper Schmeichel to the test at his near post and also hit the bar with a great effort.
He was hungry for a goal and for success with Liverpool, after failing to do so with Egypt this time.
He was also unlucky not to be granted a penalty after being fouled after shooting on one break, but there were positive signals for both the player and the team.
Liverpool is now nine points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, with only one game remaining.
Pep Guardiola’s team doesn’t appear to be dropping many points in their methodical unbeaten run, so all Liverpool can do is keep their end of the bargain and apply as much pressure as possible between now and the end of the season.
The Reds face City in April, and who knows what the table will look like by then?
Apart from the league, Liverpool still has a chance to win some more trophies this season. An EFL Cup victory over Chelsea might be the start of a successful season, while an FA Cup victory is long needed.
Then there’s the Champions League, where expectations and ambitions are as high as they were during the club’s glory years in the 1980s.
While the league will remain important, it will not be the only factor determining Liverpool’s season.