Leicester's win over Liverpool is further evidence of Brendan Rodgers' development into an elite manager

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Leicester City’s 3-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday moved them up to second in the Premier League table for the day, and it was a particularly momentous afternoon for Brendan Rodgers.

In a big result for landlordism fans everywhere, Rodgers finally got the better of Jurgen Klopp, who previously rented a Merseyside property that he purchased during his time as Reds manager. In three prior meetings with the head coach who replaced him at Anfield, the Northern Irishman has been repeatedly humiliated.


The previous two games ended 7-0 to Klopp on aggregate, and in the fixture before that Liverpool also came out on top 2-1. The German’s dominance must have been especially hard for Rodgers to take, as Klopp is the man who succeeded in turning the Reds into Premier League title winners. It’s a feat Rodgers came close to, but never managed during his years at the club.

This weekend, Rodgers at last enacted revenge on his ex’s perfect new boyfriend, leading his Foxes to an outstanding victory. The win completed a hat trick of sorts. Prior to this season, Rodgers had never beaten Klopp, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho. This term he has ended that streak, thumping Manchester City 5-2 and dispatching of Tottenham 2-0.

In both of those games, Leicester played scintillating football throughout. Against Liverpool, they condensed the majority of their attacking threat into one devastating seven minute period, which somewhat glossed over their less than impressive start to the game. Early on, basic misplaced passes and slack marking nearly saw them punished. However, this should be taken with a healthy pinch of salt, with their display providing a neat microcosm of some of the challenges Rodgers has faced – and risen above – this season.

The win moved Leicester six points ahead of Liverpool | Pool/Getty Images

Much has been written about Liverpool’s injury crisis this season, but Leicester also came into this game with a crocked, half-cooked squad. Timothy Castagne, Dennis Praet and Wes Morgan all missed out, while two of the best defenders in the league this season, James Justin and Wesley Fofana, were also sidelined.

Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo Pereira have similarly spent periods on the treatment table this season, although as Maddison rightly pointed out after the game, this has not been talked about nearly enough.

Instead of spending his time whinging about his side’s fitness problems, Rodgers has demonstrated incredible flexibility in his team selections. Early on in the season, he squeezed the best out of his meagre resources by shifting to a 3-4-2-1 or 5-4-1. More recently he has again reacted to who is available by deploying a 4-2-3-1.

This trend continued against the Reds with Daniel Amartey being shoehorned in at right back, while Pereira took up defensive duties on the opposite flank. For other teams changing the backline so dramatically might have disastrous effects. At Leicester though, Rodgers has created a distinct tactical culture. This, combined with his world class motivational skills, means that fringe players have had no issue stepping up to the plate when required this season.

Marc Albrighton, Nampalys Mendy and Kelechi Iheanacho were all once considered surplus to requirements at the King Power Stadium. Under Rodgers this campaign, they have found a new lease of life, playing their part in the Foxes’ top four push.

The latest fringe player to come to the foreground was Amartey against Liverpool. Asked to fill in at right back, his display was not vintage, but he still chipped in with several important interventions, racking up a pair of blocks, a tackle and four clearances.

Sadio Mane, Daniel Amartey
Amartey was solid if unspectacular against the Reds | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Although the Foxes’ rotational options have played their role, it was the Leicester players who have attracted plenty of headlines this season that again proved decisive against the champions. Harvey Barnes – who now must be considered a strong contender for this summer’s England squad – won the free kick that led the first goal and also bagged one himself. Maddison and Vardy were heavily involved in the game’s dramatic seven minute turnaround as well.

The result was a significant one for Rodgers personally and it was exactly what he deserved after working miracles with a depleted Leicester team this season. He has created an atmosphere where players can thrive, and also managed to carve out a playing style that is both distinct yet flexible.

Currently, there are few fans in England that would not want him in charge of their team and you get the feeling that the best is yet to come from the once figure of ridicule.

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