In the club’s first match since the dismissal of manager Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City responded well in an emphatic 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Monday evening. The strong result at the King Power Stadium moves the Foxes out of the relegation places, now 15th in the Premier League table.
Leicester appeared motivated and brought an attacking approach into the match, with manager Jurgen Klopp’s side unable to keep pace throughout much of the encounter. Caretaker managers Craig Shakespeare and Mike Stowell prepared the squad well after a difficult week for the club, and certainly deserve praise for their efforts.
Two first-half goals from Jamie Vardy (28’) and Danny Drinkwater (39’) set the tone early, as home supporters were delighted to see such effort from their club. Vardy added a second (60’) to give Leicester a 3-0 advantage, with Philippe Coutinho’s strike (68’) merely consolation for Liverpool.
Disappointment for the Reds
After a difficult January, Liverpool seemed set to put their troubles behind them following a 2-0 victory over Tottenham. But a sloppy and undisciplined performance Monday at Leicester will certainly not instill confidence.
Despite the majority of possession (70%-30%), the Reds struggled to create quality opportunities at goal. Coutinho’s tally was brought about by an excellent individual run from Emre Can.
Loss of possession in the midfield directly led to Vardy’s opening goal, and the defence had great difficulty defending in front of goal. With an important fixture against Arsenal this Saturday at Anfield, Klopp will want to see massive improvement in a short period of time.
The Premier League title-holders had not scored a goal in six consecutive league matches, and felt a tremendous relief after Jamie Vardy’s first goal. Danny Drinkwater’s magnificent effort from distance was a special moment as well.
The circumstances behind Claudio Ranieri’s sacking have brought about quite a bit of mystery, as rumours of players demanding his removal surfaced soon after their manager’s departure. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel recently told the BBC that there was no truth to the story, but the talks certainly created a tense atmosphere.
Leicester’s trademark counter-attacking play and quick movements that helped to bring a miraculous title last season were once again on display Monday. How much that has to do with Ranieri’s absence remains to be seen moving forward.
Relegation battle continues
Leicester’s victory moves them higher in the table, but the club are not out of danger just yet. The Foxes are now only two points clear of the relegation places.
Hull City drew at home against Burnley, while Sunderland lost 2-0 at Everton. Crystal Palace and manager Sam Allardyce kept the pressure on, gaining three crucial points in a 1-0 win against Middlesbrough.
Palace earned only their second victory of 2017, but it is difficult to count out Allardyce’s ability to keep a club in the English top flight. The fight to remain in the Premier League will likely come down to the final matches.
Leicester will host Hull City on Saturday, while difficult matches remain against Tottenham and Manchester City later in the season. The first match after Claudio Ranieri went well for the club, but even more positive results are not guaranteed at this point.