It was another disappointing night for the Reds as they were defeated 2-0 at Leicester, despite a having a very promising first half. Sadly though, second half goals from Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani sent Liverpool packing from the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle. What did we learn from this early and painful exit?
No Need To Panic
I don’t even know where to begin with this section. I am frankly astonished by the recent outcry of supporters at the current situation. Fickle doesn’t even come close to doing the behavior of many fans justice. Fortunately, I have seen enough positive outlooks to give me hope for the future. I am certainly not alone in seeing the positive for the season and thank God for that.
With very much a makeshift team, we outplayed the Foxes for long stretches and certainly can feel hard done by to be defeated. I never really expected to waltz into the King Power and swat aside Leicester and yet in the first half that was very nearly the case. Inspired by a resurgent Phil Coutinho and a busy Andy Robertson, the Reds looked a threat every time they went forward. Dom Solanke is still learning and on a day in the not so distant future, he should benefit from his inexperience here.
Getting knocked out of the League Cup so early is never particularly pleasing but it is far from the end of the world as we know it.
Patience With The Ox
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first start for Liverpool last night and as much as the chosen narrative appears to be that he is expensive flop already, he actually had a very good opening 45 minutes. He was heavily involved, looked more confident and barring a miracle goal line clearance, would have had his first Liverpool goal.
Life won’t get any easier for the former Arsenal man in the coming weeks. He was never signed to be a starter and his chances will be limited from here on and he will have to continue to make the most of them. But those of us with any logic knew that this was always going to be his role. Did anybody really expect him to start right away? He is simply a valuable depth player who certainly improves the squad. In fairness to the player he seems to have a very good attitude which is most important at this juncture. His chance will come eventually and we will all have to be patient until then.
I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing Danny Ings step back on the pitch was pretty heart warming. Few players have had such bad luck with injuries and he has worked incredibly hard to get back to match fitness. To top it all off, a fit and firing Ings will be a massive asset to the squad. That is the next step for the ex-Burnley striker now. Welcome back Ingsy!
Finally, even though there was an obvious lack of a killer instinct in the final third, many players really stood out in a positive sense. I already briefly mentioned the very good performance from Andy Robertson at left back. He just exudes composure, quality, and discipline. Essentially everything that Alberto Moreno struggles with. Can he run as fast as the Spaniard or hit the ball as hard? Not even close and he’s far from perfect but he needs to start as many games as possible from here onwards.
Marko Grujic also got a rare start and did reasonably well. He looked to be a little unsure of himself at times but that was to be expected. Once Grujic starts playing with a little more confidence he could become a big part of this squad. He still has a lot to learn especially when it comes to pointless rash tackles but I always see something I like in Grujic every time he plays and yesterday was no different.
The performances of Joe Gomez continue to get better and better as well. The longterm injury certainly set him back but it seems the rust is all gone now. A back four of Gomez, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Robertson must be tried now. Incredibly, Lovren has not yet had the opportunity to play alongside Robertson (no wonder he sometimes looks so panicked!) . Until the return of Nathaniel Clyne from injury, this appears to be the best backline available. The time is now.
So there we have it, a night to forget in Leicester. We can only hope that there will be a reversal of fortunes when the teams meet in the very same ground on Saturday again. A very different side will line up for Jurgen Klopp and I imagine the strike force will have a little more guile and experience in front of goal than last night’s crew. We have no choice now but to focus on the League and Champions League. Bring it on!