The Liverpool bandwagon rolls on. Just.
Jurgen Klopp will have aged five years watching his side labour against Leicester on Saturday afternoon, but his side got the job done in the end, sneaking a 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium. For the first time since 1990, the Reds have started a league season with four straight wins .
They were made to work for this one, and then some. Sloppy and sluggish, they were forced to hold on at times as Leicester threatened a rousing second-half fightback. The celebrations at the final whistle were of relief as much as anything.
Alisson Becker, naturally, will have been the most relieved of all. The Brazilian’s first howler in a Liverpool shirt has arrived, and got worse with every viewing. At least, small mercies, it was not a costly one. He and his manager will just have to swallow the inevitable jokes about concussion and the curse of Anfield goalkeepers .
Easier to do when you’re top of the league, mind. Liverpool’s faultless start to the campaign – in terms of points, at least – continues, even if they will need significant improvements if they are to sustain it after the international break.
Sadio Mane’s fourth goal of the season and Roberto Firmino’s first did the damage here, though the visiting fans were left nervy by Alisson’s hiccup, which allowed Rachid Ghezzal to half the deficit after the break.
Klopp had been generous in his praise for Leicester pre-match, but will have been less pleased with what he saw from his own side, particularly in the second 45 minutes, where their decision-making from front to back was shoddy and contributed to them failing to muster a single shot on target.
An ugly win is still a win, of course, and it is fair to expect other sides to struggle at the King Power Stadium this season. Claude Puel has a good record against Liverpool, and his energetic, high-pressing outfit caused the Reds plenty of headaches here. Even Virgil van Dijk, normally unflappable, suffered. On the touchline, Klopp was as animated as he has been for some time.
He can, though, reflect on an efficient first-half display which set his side on the road to three points. Mo Salah’s uncharacteristic miss aside – and the Egyptian was as guilty as anyone of wastefulness on the day – Liverpool took their chances as Mane scored to settle them. Like his team, the Senegal star has four from four this season. In just about any other side, he’d be the star man.
Firmino’s first goal since April, headed home from a James Milner corner on the stroke of half-time, was just as welcome. The Brazilian has had better days, but left as the match-winner. Milner, incidentally, has now equalled David Beckham’s tally of 80 Premier League assists , though even he seemed to be feeling the pace in the second period.
Klopp knew the significance of victory here, with his players now set to head off around the globe on international duty. When they return, Liverpool will be looking at a run of fixtures containing the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea (twice), Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. September will not be for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure.
Improvement will certainly be needed for the trip to Spurs in a fortnight’s time. Liverpool cannot be so lax in possession at Wembley, nor as ponderous in the final third. Alisson, one would hope, will learn fast after his hesitation here.
Still, there are worse places to be than being 12 from 12 after four matches. The last time Liverpool started this well, Kenny Dalglish was their manager, John Barnes was their superstar and they were Champions of England. It’s been a long, long wait since.
Those who made the journey to Leicester left in good spirits, and rightly so. The sun shone, the goals came. Top of the league and not at their best.
Imagine what could happen when Liverpool hit their stride…