“Sadio Mane is in bed,” said BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey when explaining the absence of Liverpool’s Africa Cup of Nations champion. While if that was so, Senegal’s man of the moment may now be in for a sleepless night – now the adrenaline from Sunday’s penalty-shootout triumph over Egypt has finally left his system – knowing his place in Jurgen Klopp’s side is now under serious threat.
Luis Diaz has firmly arrived at Anfield if that wasn’t already abundantly clear from his thrilling 30-minute cameo against Cardiff on Sunday, when he teed up Takumi Minamino for the Reds’ second of the afternoon.
Tonight against the Foxes he made the next step, starting, impressing and proving he could well be the subject of some difficult decisions and conversations in weeks to come.
Having already been gatecrashed by Diogo Jota last season, Liverpool’s fantastic three appears to be no more.
Matches where Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino start alongside each other are set to become a rarity.
Diaz danced, glided, swivelled and dribbled to excite the expectant Kop – looking right at home from the get-go on the left-side of Liverpool’s three-pronged attack.
His application and craft saw him keep his place on the field just before the hour mark when Salah and Harvey Elliott were introduced to the fray.
Klopp is understood to be genuinely impressed by Diaz’s ability to absorb information despite speaking little English – something that was key to his decision to start the forward.
Liverpool assistant Pepijn Lijnders, fluent in Portuguese having previously worked at Diaz’s former club Porto, has to take the plaudits for that.
For all his brilliance at AFCON, Mane has simply not been up to scratch, certainly by his standards, this season.
And with both Mane and Salah now in the final 18 months of their Liverpool contracts, both are playing for their futures – as silly as that sounds – more notably, the former.
There was clear natural chemistry between Diaz and Andy Robertson all evening, prompting Liverpool to continuously attack down the left.
The relentless energy and movement has been lacking at times this season and now Mane will have to force his way back into reckoning.
Liverpool were knocking on the door from the very start of the match, as they strived to break down Leicester’s deep block with fast, interchanging wing play.
Kasper Schmeichel was called into action to beat away shots from Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold as the Reds repeatedly asked questions of the Foxes.
The deadlock was finally broken on 34 minutes when Alexander-Arnold’s in-swinging corner was met by the head of Virgil van Dijk, his header was then parried out by Schmeichel, straight into the path of Jota who slammed home from close range.
There was plenty of fine interplay in the second half, particularly after Salah had entered the fray.
The Egyptian crashed a shot off the crossbar before Diaz came close to netting his first Liverpool goal.
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