One thing about Brendan Rodgers’ manner, at least with the media, is that he doesn’t shy away from honest acknowledgment of his team in good or bad times.
Leicester City pulled back into second place on the Premier League table on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Liverpool at the King Power Stadium, putting the reigning champions six points in the rearview mirror.
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It was a performance contrary to many of their big tests under Rodgers, where the Foxes either stuck around but couldn’t get result or were pummeled altogether.
“We had a great reaction to going behind.” Rodgers said after the win. “That, a year ago, might have disappointed us, but we kept going. We got the equalizer and then we changed the shape of the team to try and win the game and we came out on the other side of a fantastic performance and win.”
He’s mostly right, by the way, and you don’t have to go back too far to find examples that underscore the difference. Sure, last season saw the Foxes fall apart after blowing an early lead at Man City but even in losses Leicester has shown better steel. Even after conceding an equalizer and then going down to Leeds, the Foxes had spells of dominance en route to a 3-1 loss.
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But there’s also something to the state of Liverpool right now combined with Leicester’s prowess. Both James Maddison and Harvey Barnes respectfully expressed that after the game.
“With them missing Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in the middle they are probably a little more vulnerable on the counter-attack at the minute,” Maddison said. “The mentality has changed now. The heartache of not finishing in the Champions League last season has probably helped us in the long run. We sat down and looked at why we didn’t qualify. We are back in Europe this week and in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup so we are in a good position. We want to establish ourselves as a top team in the league now.”
And the Reds’ mystique has taken a hit. The deserved champs who made a historical run to the Premier League Trophy by getting loads of good bounces and few bad ones has been an injury-riddled squad that’s had opposite luck with twists and turns on the pitch.
“Looking at them, you know that they’re a great side but you look at their recent result and a few of their results, we knew that if we turned up we’ve had a great chance against them,” Barnes said. “We’ve been really good against the big teams this year. We didn’t come into the game not believing in ourselves, we knew that if we turned up we’d definitely get a result. That showed today as soon we got the first goal we had the belief to go and get the second and third.”
"As soon as we got the first goal, we had the belief to get the second and the third… we're really pleased but it's not a shock to us, we know we're capable with the quality we have in the squad." 💬
— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 13, 2021