Liverpool prove they’ve got plenty in reserve at Fortress Anfield with display of champions – Andy Dunn
Just when Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp needed an emergency centre-half, up popped Jonny Evans.
It seems everyone wants to score for the champions at Anfield.
Not much goes wrong for Klopp at home and Evans’ bizarre own goal to start scoring proceedings was one of Liverpool’s more fortunate moments in an unbeaten Premier League home run that now stretches to a record-breaking 64 fixtures.
But do not, for one minute, believe this latest victory or, indeed, the record that goes back over three and a half years had or has anything to do with luck.
Quite simply, this is a formidable footballing organisation Klopp and his recruitment team have built.
And as they are being forced to prove, it is not just front-loaded with elite, first-choice starters.
There is plenty of back-up excellence, swathes of reserve quality.
That is why they should be odds-on favourites to keep hold of their crown.
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Diogo Jota, who doubled the lead with a header every bit as subtle as Evans’s was unsubtle, is the buy of the last transfer window.
Curtis Jones is maturing by the week and swaggered around the midfield areas with a confidence that suggests big things.
Klopp’s own confidence in Jones allowed Klopp to use Fabinho in central defence and he was pretty much immaculate.
Make no mistake, with the players they had out – and don’t forget, in Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, you are talking absolute gold standard absentees – this performance had the hallmark of champions stamped all over it.
There was the tiniest of escapes early on.
By modern standards, James Maddison’s miscue catching Joel Matip’s hand was a stonewaller.
Never mind the Liverpool defender knew nothing about it and was almost on top of Maddison, we’ve all seen them given, as the say, in this penalty-obsessed era.
Chris Kavanagh and, presumably, VAR showed a modicum of sense on this occasion.
If you could class it as a let-off, Liverpool capitalised, Jones and Jota bringing high-quality responses from Kasper Schmeichel before the Leicester keeper was stunned by his own team-mate.
It was a routine corner-kick from James Milner – boring, you might call it – but Evans, feet planted and under only a pinch of pressure from Sadio Mane, simply nodded it past Schmeichel.
It was a mistake of an unfathomable nature from a player who had a forgettable night.
But the breakthrough was hardly undeserved.
Liverpool were simply way sharper and way more inventive.
Their second goal was preceded by innumerable passes but the key one was Andy Robertson’s carefully-curled cross that was converted by Jota.
He is some player, Robertson. And Jota, of course.
Liverpool should have been out of sight early in the second half when Mane should not have allowed himself to be denied by Schmeichel and when Evans, laughingly, headed against his own post.
He is normally deadly from that range.
And in one mad scramble, there were a couple of uprights struck and the tightest of goal-line clearances.
It meant there was an odd nervy moment for Klopp before Roberto Firmino marked a return to form with a late header that gave the scoreline a look that reflected Liverpool’s superiority..
In fact, probably the most anxious Klopp got was when Keita and Jota, in separate incidents, were grounded in pain.
Keita had to limp off, Jota was fine to continue in his current electric form.
That will be something of a relief for Klopp but he need not worry about those who will be missing from future games.
There is plenty in reserve at the home of the champions.
And this was emphatic proof of that.