Football

Jurgen Klopp’s master butchers fillet Leicester and will add Prem title to World crown


TALK of Leicester City’s involvement in a title race was always premature and fanciful.

Indeed, talk of any sort of Premier League title race is pie-in-the-sky material this season.

 Liverpool are cruising their way to the title

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Liverpool are cruising their way to the titleCredit: AP:Associated Press

Liverpool are shaping up as the most dominant team the English top flight has ever seen.

By the time the Champions League resumes in mid-February, Jurgen Klopp’s juggernaut is likely to be so far out of sight that the Reds will be able to prioritise the retention of their European crown.

The newly-enthroned world club champs will probably fancy themselves to win the Boat Race and the Eurovision Song Contest too at this rate.

Jamie Vardy’s Leicester were supposedly the best of the rest and yet they were filleted on their own patch by Klopp’s master butchers.

But while Leicester are wobbling — taking one point from their last available nine — it must be remembered how outstanding an achievement it would be for Brendan Rodgers’ side even to finish in the top four.

It is Leicester’s own miracle title win of 2016 which clouds that fact.

 The ruthless Reds have won 17 out of 18 league games this season

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The ruthless Reds have won 17 out of 18 league games this seasonCredit: Reuters

Because Claudio Ranieri’s champions were the only side outside of the ‘big six’ to achieve a top-four finish since Everton 15 years ago.

And Leicester remain ten points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham at the halfway stage of their campaign.

However embarrassed they might have been by Liverpool, their first half of the season has been astonishingly good.

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Rodgers, an evangelical optimist, will ensure his side keep their chins up after back-to-back defeats by Manchester City and Liverpool.

This was a reality check for anyone who might have imagined a repeat of four years ago but it is not a cause for Leicester to panic.

Liverpool are shaping up as the most dominant team the English top flight has ever seen

England’s champions-elect made the Foxes look naive, ragged and sluggish as they soared 13 POINTS clear at the summit.

But against the Premier League’s mortals, Leicester have been consistently bright, sharp and dangerous.

They must rouse themselves and prove as much again in trips to West Ham and Newcastle over the next five days to ensure that this wobble does not become a full-blown slump.

Leicester might have fancied themselves to catch Liverpool travel-weary and hungover from their Club World Cup victory in Qatar just five days ago.

Some hope. While Klopp selected ten starters from the victory over Flamengo, Rodgers’ men continually played into their hands in the early stages with a desire to play out from the back which verged on mania.

First a loose pass from Jonny Evans found Georginio Wijnaldum, allowing Mo Salah a sight at goal, which he squandered.

Then a hospital pass of a defensive throw put Ricardo Pereira under pressure and gave Jordan Henderson a shot at goal, which deflected and looped wide.

The warnings were there, plenty of them, before the 31st-minute opener.

Leicester failed to clear a corner and Trent Alexander-Arnold crossed deep from the left for Roberto Firmino to out-jump Ben Chilwell.

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When Sadio Mane wriggled past a couple of defenders only to be denied by a sharp Kasper Schmeichel, the King Power’s big screens laid bare Liverpool’s superiority — eight shots to nil.

After the break, Leicester seemed rattled to the point of full-blown anxiety by the famous Klopp gegenpressing every time they tried to play it out.

It was like tiptoeing through a minefield. Just as Leicester enjoyed a brief promising spell midway through the second half, Caglar Soyuncu handled from an Alexander-Arnold corner and James Milner slotted home the spot-kick with his first touch after arriving as a sub.

 Leicetser are still a work in progress and they can be proud of their season so far

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Leicetser are still a work in progress and they can be proud of their season so farCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Firmino added his second from another Alexander-Arnold assist soon after, then the England right-back pinged home the fourth as the hosts were stretched wide open.

This was a good old-fashioned pasting but Leicester need not compare themselves to this Liverpool lot.

At present, no team on the planet can do that.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp tries to keep up his tradition of singing Happy Birthday to the club’s press officer Matt McCann





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