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Liverpool Cruise to Victory vs. Leicester as Sturridge Proves he’s a Fit For Klopp

Jurgen Klopp took the decision to train his side at the new and improved Anfield earlier in the week so that his players would not be unfamiliar to their new surroundings and it did the trick as Liverpool ran riot over Leicester City.

History has proven that Anfield is a place where anything can happen, especially when the crowd is in the right mood, and on Saturday the fanbase — including an extra 8,500 supporters packed in as a result of the redevelopment of the Main Stand– was alive and roaring prior to kickoff and in the opening exchanges.

It got even louder when Roberto Firmino put Liverpool ahead in the 13th minute. Makeshift left-back James Milner played a through ball into the space down the middle, which Daniel Sturridge opened up into the path of Firmino who calmly slotted home.

The goal settled the home side and they continued to assert their dominance. It was 2-0 with 32 minutes on the clock as Sadio Mane tapped in to round off an exquisite move.

But in an instant Leicester were given a lifeline out of nowhere as Lucas Leiva — deputising at centre-back for the injured Dejan Lovren — gifted possession to Jamie Vardy inside the penalty area, who pounced on the opportunity to draw one back moments before half-time.

That goal did not affect Liverpool, though. Klopp’s side returned from the interval with the same buoyancy and intensity.

Adam Lallana’s week got even better following his first goal for country on Sunday, as he restored Liverpool’s two-goal advantage with a rocket into the top corner.

Anfield did grow tense as the visitors searched for a way back into the game and committed men upfield, but Firmino added another goal late on by footing into an empty net to ensure that no party in front of the club’s owners was to be spoilt on this day.

Due to international commitments with Brazil as late as Tuesday, Philippe Coutinho did not return back to Merseyside until Thursday. With Coutinho having clocked up the miles, Klopp opted to shuffle his forward line and use Sturridge down the middle after the striker recently revealed that he was uncomfortable being shifted out on the right.

There have been question marks as to whether Sturridge can fit into Klopp’s high-pressing system, but Liverpool’s opening goal proved that the England international can adapt to the Reds’ approach. Moments prior to Firmino’s goal, Sturridge tracked back to break up a Leicester attack inside his own half. He then went up the other end of the pitch and drifted to the left to create a pathway for his Brazilian teammate.

He could have had a goal of his own a short while later only for Kasper Schmeichel to deny him from close range. But Leicester could not keep Sturridge quiet at all. He provided the assist for Mane’s tap-in with a wonderful backheel after bursting through on goal and was involved in Lallana’s strike too.

The 27-year-old was taking up positions everywhere, which meant it was extremely difficult for Leicester’s defenders and anchoring midfielders to track. His performance was a timely reminder that Sturridge is arguably the Reds’ only player with world-class ability. In contrast to previous seasons gone by, Klopp now has options in the final third, which means there will not be an over-reliance on Sturridge to be Liverpool’s source for goals. But he showed against Leicester that he is more than willing — and able — to be the architect for them.

Claudio Ranieri ruled out summer signing Nampalys Mendy through injury, which meant that Daniel Amartey kept his place in the heart of Leicester’s midfield alongside Danny Drinkwater after an impressive performance against Swansea City prior to the international break.

It will be tough for the 21-year-old this season, as he will constantly be compared to the departed N’Golo Kante — something that his manager has been quick to dismiss. The midfielder’s performances prior to Saturday’s game have caught the eye, but he really struggled at Anfield, as did Leicester’s other midfielders.

Vardy cut a lonely figure up top as the Foxes could not withstand the pressure from Liverpool’s energetic midfield three. A change at the break saw Shinji Okazaki replaced by Ahmed Musa in the hope to use the latter’s explosive pace.

Musa ended up on the right wing as he and Riyad Mahrez averted from their narrow position when it was 3-1. But it was a case of too little, too late for Ranieri’s side. Bodies in blue shirts poured forward, which meant Liverpool had opportunities to spring a rapid counterattack by utilising the pace of Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum.

While this season was always going to fall short against the heroics of 2015-16, just four points after four games may leave Ranieri a little disappointed. He shouldn’t be too disheartened though, as he takes his side to Bruges on Wednesday night to begin their Champions League adventure.

Source: ESPN

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