4 seasons in the past, when Leicester Metropolis gained the Premier League in one of many nice upsets of recent sports activities, the feat was each of its personal making and a fluke of circumstance. As a result of in that 2015-16 season, the entire greatest golf equipment had coinciding down years, making a uncommon alternative for an outsider to sneak to an unbelievable title.
This season, Manchester United stays in its mire, Chelsea is rebuilding, Tottenham Hotspur has all method of points, Manchester Metropolis can’t appear to copy final yr’s title-winning consistency, and Arsenal stays extraordinarily Arsenal. And so a cleverly constructed and well-drilled Leicester is as soon as once more excessive up within the standings.
However the distinction is that this time round, there may be additionally Liverpool, having its greatest season ever so far – statistically, on the very least.
And after they met on Thursday in a standard Boxing Day showdown, it was clear that the hole between the runaway leaders and Leicester is each bit as huge because the distinction in factors between them. By no means thoughts that Leicester had the stingiest protection within the league going into the sport. Liverpool gained 4-0, courtesy of a Roberto Firmino brace, a James Milner penalty and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s well-deserved objective. The Reds have now constructed a 13-point lead over second-placed Leicester – with a sport in hand, making it a hypothetical 16-point chasm on the half-way level of the marketing campaign.
Recent off including a Membership World Cup title to their European crown in Qatar simply days in the past, in a pair of tight and late-won victories over Monterrey and Flamengo, the Reds had been anticipated to be drained as they traveled to the crew straight beneath them within the standings. The dominance of the champions-elect – and no, we’re not even within the yr when the champion will really be topped but – was such that the end result was by no means at risk.
From the opening seconds, Jurgen Klopp’s swaggering juggernaut had probabilities as Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane examined Kasper Schmeichel. Mohamed Salah ran riot behind Leicester’s excessive line and rounded the Danish goalkeeper however couldn’t fairly replicate his wondergoal in opposition to Watford from an unimaginable angle along with his left foot.
Within the thirty first minute, Alexander-Arnold dropped a good cross to the again publish, the place Firmino might nod it in freely, as Salah lurked behind him too.
Mane then acquired a free shot at Schmeichel however didn’t direct his end nicely.
And Leicester, nicely… Leicester was additionally there. Form of. It document 0.0 anticipated targets within the first half.
first half xG map for Leicester – Liverpool
the one good factor you possibly can say for Leicester is they have been comprehensively dismantled however solely shedding by one objective pic.twitter.com/SklnYpdM9n
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) December 26, 2019
Firmino went near his second 10 minutes after the break, however he dinked Andy Robertson’s cross huge of the far publish. And it took an hour earlier than Leicester might lastly stage a sustained assault as Liverpool lived by means of a sloppy spell.
However simply then, Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu elbowed a cross going by him in his space. James Milner coolly slotted within the ensuing penalty.
Minutes later, Firmino took a stunning, deadening contact on one other Alexander-Arnold cross and elegantly completed into the highest nook for the third.
And Alexander-Arnold capped his transcendent sport with a low lash to the far nook to complete off a breakaway for a 3rd objective in lower than 10 minutes.
It was all relatively straightforward for Liverpool, which regarded prefer it might have scored one other handful of targets however was additionally protected within the data that it didn’t fully matter if it acquired them or not. As a result of this continues to be all-time nice marketing campaign for Liverpool, on the again of final yr’s club-record factors haul, which nonetheless fell a degree in need of Metropolis’s imperiousness.
Liverpool has now misplaced simply as soon as in a season and a half within the Premier League. The Foxes, for that matter, have now didn’t win of their final three video games, successfully capitulating on their title problem. Metropolis might take over second place on Sunday, if it wins at Wolves and reduces the hole to 11.
Klopp’s excellent collective has been the champion-apparent for a while now, however a primary Liverpool title in three many years now seems like one thing of an inevitability. It will take a collapse much more unfathomable than Leicester’s title for the Reds to squander this lead.
As a result of not even the fixture congestion so fiercely criticized by Klopp can appear to gradual his crew down. The Reds play once more on Sunday, after which on Thursday, after which Sunday once more – in opposition to Merseyside rivals Everton. However relatively than stumbling, this Liverpool seems to be prefer it might emerge from the vacation season on even firmer footing than it entered.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports activities soccer columnist and a sports activities communication lecturer at Marist Faculty. Observe him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.
Extra from Yahoo Sports activities: