So the day finally arrived. The new stand is open, it looks amazing and the fans were out in colour en mass to welcome home the team after a 122 days absence and to welcome the reigning champions to a new Anfield. Fans were hoping that a new successful era for the club was about to start.
The team sheet showed a couple changes really to note. Dejan Lovren was out, picking up an injury in training during the week. Lovren was replaced by Lucas Leiva in the heart of the Liverpool defence. Daniel Sturridge got a start in the team in front of Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino in an attacking Liverpool side. Otherwise the rest of the team seems to pick itself so far when all fit apart from Emre Can who is still injured. The Liverpool bench looked strong with Divock Origi, Phillipe Couthino joining the returning Loris Karius from his hand injury.
Against Leicester, Jürgen Klopp set up his Liveprool team perfectly. Klopp had teo weeks off to prepare for this game. No injuries were reported after the international break and the whole event of the new stand and all the excited supporters, everyone was expecting a hectic start full of passion, pace and a high tempo.
Alas as the game started it was Leicester that came out of the blocks better, slightly faster, better to the ball and confident looking. No real chances were created by either side early on but it was clearly visible that Riyadh Mahrez was going to be a big option for the visitors out wide on the right wing and always seemingly available with his pace. The Liverpool approach was to be more patient and developing the movement through the centre. After the initial exchanges it was Liverpool that started to apply the pressure with Sadio Mané out wide always a threat and Daniel Sturridge looking lively along with Roberto Firmino being ably backed up by the supply coming through from a solid midfield.
After dropping deep to intercept a cross field pass Daniel Sturridge played a ball back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in goal. Mignolet immediately delivered the ball out to Lucas who immediately playes it down the left wing to James Milner. Milner produces a great through ball to the galloping forward Firmino who sells a faint on the edge of the box that takes two Leicester players out of the game leaving him to slot the ball to the net past the wrong footed Kaspar Schmeichel in gaol. Thirteen minutes gone and along with dominating the game at this point, Liverpool had a deserved lead with a quick sharp passage of play from back to front.
After the goal it was more of the same asLiverpool dominated midfield leaving Leicester to simply hoof the ball forward with hope that either Jamie Vardy or Mahrez can conjure up some magic while being marshalled very well by the Liverpool defence.
On thirty one minutes Lucas again played a quick ball forward to a Firmino who dropped deep into midfield, he tapped the ball back to Jordan Henderson who immediately with great accuracy chips the ball forward along the channel to Sturridge running across the field on to the ball. As he ran into the box with Mané crossing behind his run Sturridge produces an outrageous back heel to the centre of the box where Mané was unmarked and he showed great composure to simply lift the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Great goal, great movement and vision,and all from only 4 passes right through the heart of the visiting team who by now are being picked apart all too easily.
With fifteen minutes remaining in the first half Liverpool looked good for all three points and probably having the game wrapped up by half time. But yet again Liverpool let a team back in to the game, as a simple ball played to Lucas byMignolet somehow catches him by surprise. I can only assume as what happens next as it is hard to explain. Lucas was already picking his pass forward when he tapped the ball away from himself too far and in trying to recover before being closed down he subsequently pokes the ball straight across the six yard line to a totally free Vardy to tap home what will be the easiest goal he is likely to ever score.
With thirty nine minutes gone and with Liverpool winning 2-1, it was a case of Liverpool now basically holding on until half time as the champions tried to pile on the pressure to capitalise on the nervousness now surrounding the whole ground.
Into the second half and apart from a bloody nose for Mignolet after a corner collision the game swings along without any real chances created for either side although the introduction during the break of Musa does give the visitors more of a presence going forward and around the box.
On fifty five minutes, another clever ball through for Firmino on the edge of the box, he turns and puts Daniel Sturridge in on goal right through the middle and where Mané in the first half chipped the goalie Sturridge fails to do so and a great chance goes a begging to increase the lead. But the follow up pressure results in Georginio Winjaldum slipping a ball to Adam Lallana just inside the box on the right side to deliver a smashing first time drive into the top corner of the goal past a diving goalkeeper. Another goal of high quality and created with movement that saw five Liverpool players in the box looking to score.
Tails up now yet again the pressing continues, it was interrupted on sixty minutes when Mahrez again got free between Liverpools lines to push a fine ball into the path of Jamie Vardy who brings a fine save from Mignolet with his feet. A chance that he will have know he should have scored and one that would have applied the pressure again on the home team so soon after stretching their lead.
Couthino and KevinStewart came in to the fray on seventy five minutes to replace Sturridge and Winjaldum who both were good today and always showed for the ball and were always available to receive the ball. As the game started to run down and with Leicester still trying to create that chance to give them some hope but it was to no avail and on the nintith minute Liverpool broke out of defence and the electric Mané was released and he broke down the pitch and rounded Kasper Schmeichel who was way out of his box and he passed the ball to Firmino who was able to slot home to an empty net with composure again to avoid the last ditch tackle.
The result 4-1 on the day could have been even more convincing but as a result against last seasons champions and yet again another showing of the attacking prowess available let to Jürgen Klopp things are starting to look good and with a more stable platform in the middle.
Today Lucas was impressive positionally yet again making just the one mistake. Henderson, lallana, Mane all produced top performances with Roberto Firmino being my man of the match with two goals and another wise outstanding performance all day all over the park.
A night to sit back and enjoy the match highlights as it will show plenty of attacking with pace and end results.
Written by @StephenKing75