Frustrating, of course.
But look at the bigger picture. After this round of fixtures our title rivals are certainly more hurt than us. In many ways, watching our result would have added to their anger. Not only have they not capitalised but they have fallen further behind. Leicester are a very good team, especially when playing the top sides. Newcastle however, was supposed to be an easy three points before a very challenging week of fixtures for the Citizens. Surely, they are fuming. Liverpool were at their weakest and the gap has widened. Liverpool had one of their hardest fixtures remaining, Liverpool were playing in harsh conditions, Liverpool were decimated with injuries and the gap has widened. The frustration comes from the hope and the expectation of going 7 points clear being taken from us, which is reasonable. But winning a title isn’t supposed to be easy and there was always going to be setbacks. The amazing thing is with this setback we are left better off than if both us and City had won. This was the first time Liverpool have dropped a single point against opposition outside of the top 6 since April 28th 2018. That’s 277 days. Give these Reds a break.
Another positive is Sadio Mane. The often overlooked Sadio Mane. His wonderful goal on Wednesday night brings his tally to double figures in the Premier League this season and already equals his tally of last season. 10 goals in 22 appearances is an incredible record for a wideman. Now the only players to have scored more than him in the league are Salah, Kane, Aubameyang and Aguero. When you combine this staggering goalscoring with his undying work rate, blistering pace and intelligence, he truly is a world class player. His attacking intent in the first half versus Leicester was our greatest source of danger and creativity by some distance. The marvellous touch before the goal showcases his intelligence as he fools Mendy, sending him wide with his body shape, but takes a deft touch inside and calmly slots it past Schmeichel. It takes sheer quality to breach a compact defence such as Leicester’s on your own, and Mane has it in abundance. Interestingly, Mane created more chances than anyone else on the pitch on Wednesday and had a 77% pass success rate. He had 3 shots, 1 interception and 2 tackles. It was a poor performance from the Reds, but Mane was head and shoulders above the rest on the day for Liverpool and deserves immense credit for that.
The Mighty Boys in Red march on then to West Ham on Monday night. I expect the disappointment of Leicester to be well and truly put to bed with a victory in London. We’ll have key players fully fit again and be able to field a team more like our first choice with a stronger bench. The positives are there, should you choose to see them. Liverpool remain the best team in this league while Manchester City appear more frail than many of us had expected. They need to show their steel with some difficult fixtures coming up and Liverpool will not be so forgiving when they slip up next.