Sometimes, when you’re the supposed better team, it’s understandable to not really take into account your opposition’s strengths as you plan for a game.
You hope that your team’s ability will be more than enough to earn a victory regardless of what the opposition does.
Liverpool aren’t good enough for that yet, or at least the Liverpool we’ve seen since Christmas aren’t, so what happened in the build-up to the game at Leicester simply has to be questioned.
The champions have been absolutely terrible all season. The only time they really looked like the team that stunned the football world last season was when they hammered Manchester City at home, a City side that turned up and played a high line.
Almost every other team has been happy to play deeper and nullify the pace of Jamie Vardy over the top and make a limited side break them down in other ways.
So why on Earth do Liverpool rock up to the King Power stadium with a high line? It’s simply inexcusable.
What makes it worse is that the Reds have not had to play a game for 16 days. Jurgen Klopp and his staff have had 16 days to prepare for this game. They had time to watch every Leicester match from this season if they wanted to. Had they done so, they’d have drawn up two blueprints; one for how to beat the Foxes, the other would have shown exactly how not to play against them.
Sometimes as a fan and observer, I find myself thinking that something is so obvious that I question if I’m missing something, but in this case, I’m certain I haven’t.
16 days. 16 days to find a plan and we saw that?! Unbelievable.
That’s not even the worst part, there’s more. It was decided somewhere and somehow that Lucas was going to play centre back. I understand that there is an injury to Dejan Lovren and that Lucas did well against Tottenham but it’s still an odd choice when Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez are in the squad. However, the choice was (wrongly) made to put Lucas in, so maybe that means we’ll play in a way that can help him out a bit?
Liverpool had Lucas, who has only just turned 30 but runs like a 40-year-old, playing high up the pitch against the pace Vardy? Whose plan is that? How is that deemed to be a good idea? It’s absurd.
To make things worse, we all saw in the Spurs game what happens when a makeshift defence plays a high line against a side with pace in attack. Liverpool hammered Spurs in a quick first half spell and we’re helped to do so because they have Sadio Mane half a pitch to run into.
Did nobody learn from that? Did nobody stop to think that Lucas and James Milner probably won’t be able to catch Vardy?
Vardy opened the scoring by getting in behind and he had numerous other chances too. If not for a few over hit passes and some decent goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet who was quickly off his line a few times, Vardy would have scored more.
I understand that the second goal was a worldie and that can happen but Liverpool’s tactics had made things so easy for Leicester that they were full of confidence. When you’re facing a relegation-threatened side, you want to make it difficult, get them and their crowd feeling nervous. You don’t even have to play that well, you just have to make it tough for them.
Liverpool didn’t do that. They made it easy for the Foxes. They had to battle for the ball then simply put the ball into space for a Vardy to chase.
You can lose football matches, in fact, you will lose football matches. However, you’ve got to give yourself the best chance to win and against Leicester, Liverpool pretty much committed Harry Carry with their set up.
That’s not acceptable. The manager got it wrong and so did his staff. They must learn from this.
Leicester have beaten Liverpool twice in two games at the King Power Stadium and it’s very concerning that the tactics employed in both games were, despite personnel changes, very similar.
To me, that highlights either overconfidence in the ability of the team or poor planning and an inability to learn from mistakes.
Either way, it simply isn’t good enough.