Leicester City vs Liverpool. Premier League.
The King Power StadiumAttendance32,211.
Jurgen Klopp's side move 13 points clear at the top of the table to strengthen their grip on a first Premier League title
Friday 27 December 2019 06:00, UK
Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League with an emphatic 4-0 win over closest challengers Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
Two goals from Roberto Firmino, a penalty by substitute James Milner and a sweet strike by star of the show Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the newly crowned world champions a thoroughly deserved victory.
It is 35 league games unbeaten for Jurgen Klopp's side now and with their advantage currently standing at 13 points it seems unlikely that they will be denied a first league title in 30 years.
Liverpool were far too good right from the kick-off.
Alexander-Arnold tested Kasper Schmeichel inside 40 seconds and Sadio Mane should have scored moments after that as Liverpool gave an early indication of the troubles they would cause Leicester's back-line.
Leicester: Schmeichel (6); Pereira (6), Evans (5), Soyuncu (6), Chilwell (4); Ndidi (7); Praet (5), Tielemans (6), Maddison (5), Barnes (5); Vardy (6).
Subs: Albrighton (6), Perez (6), Choudhury (6).
Liverpool: Alisson (8); Alexander-Arnold (9.5), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (6); Henderson (9), Wijnaldum (7), Keita (8); Salah (7), Firmino (9), Mane (8).
Subs: Milner (7), Origi (6), Lallana (6).
Man of the Match: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Mohamed Salah had missed a good chance even before rounding Schmeichel and hitting the side-netting in the 11th minute and when Jordan Henderson had a shot deflected over soon after, the home side were rocking.
Brendan Rodgers, up against his former club, might have hoped his team had regrouped by the half-hour mark but a long spell of possession resulted in Firmino's opening goal.
Alexander-Arnold popped up on the left and his curling cross eluded Ben Chilwell at the far post to allow Firmino to head low past the outstretched leg of Schmeichel.
With Jonny Evans struggling to cope with Liverpool's movement, Mane had a wonderful chance to double the lead within minutes only to see his shot well saved by Schmeichel.
Leicester were lucky to get to the break just one goal behind but the pattern of the game only became more pronounced after the interval as they struggled to get out of their own half.
With Harvey Barnes recovering from the ankle problem that saw him substituted against Manchester City, Leicester made just one change to the team that was beaten at the Etihad Stadium with Dennis Praet coming in for Ayoze Perez.
Liverpool made two changes to the team that beat Watford last time out in the Premier League with Andrew Robertson and Naby Keita returning at the expense of James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri. That meant there was only one change from the team that beat Flamengo in the Club World Cup final – Georginio Wijnaldum back in place of the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Just when they managed to build up some pressure of their own, Liverpool won a corner on the counter-attack and Caglar Soyuncu was adjudged to have committed handball from the subsequent cross.
Milner, who had only come on seconds earlier, converted the resultant spot-kick with ease by sending Schmeichel the wrong way and any lingering resistance from Leicester was extinguished.
Firmino added his second of the night on 74 minutes when he finished off a move that he had started - calmly slotting home yet another Alexander-Arnold cross.
And then Alexander-Arnold was there rampaging up the right-wing yet again to connect beautifully with Mane's lay-off before embracing the adulation of the away fans in the corner of the King Power Stadium.
What a night for Liverpool. What a month for Liverpool. What a year for Liverpool. In this form, it is difficult to imagine that next year will not bring that long-awaited Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp: "I can write the stories myself. The story is that never before in the history of British football at least, has a team had a bigger lead and lost the lead. So that sounds, in my ear, negative. So why should we think about something like that?
"I can tell you that we play Wolves, Sheffield United, Everton, Tottenham and Manchester United in our next five games. It doesn't sound like anything is decided in my ears. We have to play all of them and we will try to make sure we are ready for these games."
Brendan Rodgers: "They are going to be very, very hard to stop, there's no doubt. Fantastic team. Confidence is high as well. They have become winners now and haven't lost many games over an 18-month period. So to lose the games they would need to in the second part of the season, they have got enough players now, enough experience and enough quality, to stay focused and get the job done."
Redefining what can be reasonably expected of a top-flight, top-class full-back. Delivered a peach of a cross for Firmino's opening goal and then fizzed in another great cross for the Brazilian's second. His tally of eight assists is the second-highest in the Premier League this term. His goal, courtesy of a perfectly-struck finish on the run, capped a performance that transcended his position.
Leicester do not have to wait long for their next game as they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham on Saturday. Liverpool have an extra day to prepare for their home game against Wolves live on Sky Sports Premier League. Coverage starts at 4pm. Kick-off is at 4.30pm.
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