Football Features

Milner leaves it late: The winners and losers from Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 17:12, 5 October 2019

Liverpool preserved their 100 per cent start in the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Leicester City at home.

Jurgen Klopp’s table toppers played out an enthralling match against the Foxes, managed by former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, with in-form forward Sadio Mane putting them in front before James Maddison equalised.

There would be late drama when the hosts were given a very late penalty, which James Milner converted, meaning they extend their lead over champions Manchester City to eight points, but that could be reduced when they welcome a struggling Wolves side on Sunday. As for Leicester, who suffered only their second loss of the season, they remain in third for the time being.

Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.

Winner: Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane remains unbeaten at Anfield in a Liverpool jersey. Since arriving in Merseyside he’s quickly become renowned for his scoring prowess, particularly having this knack of registering a goal in the unlikeliest of situations, this season and last has been laced with many examples. Saturday was no exception, with five minutes remaining in the first half, Mane was put through on goal by James Milner before slotting past Kasper Schmeichel.

It was goal number 50 for Liverpool in his 100th appearance for the club. Aside from this landmark moment; a word on what often sneaks under the radar: his selflessness. It goes without saying that he wouldn’t have lasted this long in a Jurgen Klopp team by operating differently. Mane was here, there and everywhere. He made four well-timed tackles, one preventing a near Leicester chance on goal, whilst completing two take-ons.

Loser: Jonny Evans

Every goal has a hero and villain. Mane’s deadlock-breaker was no different. Milner’s sumptuous pass from deep should really have never reached the Senegalese forward. But it did and that was because of Jonny Evans’ lack of sharpness and indecision.

His initial positioning wasn’t the greatest, meaning he was beaten before realising what happened. That being said, there was a brief moment it looked like the Northern Ireland centre-back was going to commit and make life difficult for the speedy Mane, but Evans pulled away and Leicester would immediately fall behind.

Winner: James Milner

A perfectly weighted pass for Mane to ultimately put Liverpool in front capped off a solid opening 45 minutes for James Milner who hasn’t always started for Klopp this season. The multifunctional Leeds-born footballer has a few months left on his present Reds deal, though he remains in conversation about receiving an extension, but a lack of regular playing time could see the 33-year-old leave for pastures new.

But in the here and now, Milner was exceptional, hardly giving possession away – completing 47 of his attempted 54 passes – and covering ground to support his teammates. And when the game looked to be gone, he stepped up in the final minute of stoppage time to slot home a penalty. Klopp said it best, having a player of his quality is a blessing, but the future remains to be written.

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Loser: Harvey Barnes

Going to Anfield and making a lasting impression is fast-becoming the ultimate challenge for Premier League footballers up and down the land. So far this season no opposition player has really dominated the Reds backline even if they’ve often looked shaky. One fundamental reason is their impressionable full-backs.

There is a strong case of Liverpool having the best pairing across Europe in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, the latter has recently re-discovered his old self and that was too much for Harvey Barnes to to bear. As a consequence, the young English winger was hooked off at half-time. His replacement Marc Albrighton, though, would go on to give away the late penalty denying them a successive draw at Anfield.

Winner: Anfield faithful

It’s fair to say Anfield is a fortress. We just have to look at the raw numbers. This hard-fought win means they are now unbeaten in their last 44 home league games (34 wins and 10 draws). It’s the longest current run of any side playing in Europe’s top five divisions. This is not even a club record; the Reds’ all-time best stands at 63 which they achieved between February 1978-December 1980.

History to one side, this modern Reds machine is a sight to behold, especially at home, which means their supporters are bang for their buck. Across the last 11 league matches at Anfield, which they’ve won all, Klopp’s men registered 35 goals or 3.2 per game. Speaking of wins, looking at the larger picture, it’s now 17 consecutive Premier League victories which pulls them to within one of Manchester City’s record (18) set between August-December 2017. Next up, after the international break, a trip to Old Trafford where they can match Pep Guardiola’s men.

Loser: Adrian

As touched upon, Liverpool haven’t exactly been keeping the ‘0’ at home this season, Saturday’s game was their fourth at Anfield and in each they’ve conceded at least one goal. Now, of course, every goal has its own story and there are factors in play to consider who to assign blame.

Let’s be frank and honest: Adrian, whose done reasonably well in Alisson’s absence, should have done much better when facing James Maddison’s late effort. It was yet another Jekyll and Hyde performance when considering he did well to deny Jamie Vardy moments earlier.