Sensational Salah saves Liverpool as Klopp's men survive Vardy scare
LIVERPOOL, England -- Three points from Liverpool 2-1 Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
1. Salah strikes save Liverpool
Mohamed Salah's brilliance once again spared Liverpool's blushes as he scored two second-half goals that stretched the Reds' unbeaten run to 15 games after Saturday's 2-1 win over Leicester.
Liverpool were 1-0 down following Jamie Vardy's second-minute goal, and they were frustrated and wasteful until Salah's intervention after half-time.
His first goal was a cool finish following an exquisite backheel from Sadio Mane in the 52nd minute and the winner, 14 minutes from time, came after he beautifully rolled the excellent Harry Maguire before slotting beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
Harry Kane's back-to-back hat tricks for Tottenham has given him the edge in the race to win the Premier League golden boot, but in this form, Salah -- with 17 goals to Kane's 18 -- will push him all the way.
Leicester deserved to be ahead after a bright start, but then began to sit back and attempt to frustrate the hosts. It was a tactical ploy that worked up untill half-time. Shortly after the break, with Liverpool's pressure becoming too much to resist, Salah levelled.
A scuffle ensued in the aftermath of the goal involving Maguire and Emre Can, which saw them both booked, as Liverpool wanted to retrieve the ball quickly. The remaining 48 minutes of the match were played at a similar frenzy.
Liverpool went hell for leather in their search for a winner, while the visitors made calculated counterattacks when invited to.
Salah's second sparked temporary relief around Anfield, but Leicester understandably fancied their chances of finding a late equaliser.
It was only at full-time that Liverpool could really celebrate a hard-fought three points and thank their lucky stars that Salah has adjusted to life at Liverpool as quickly as he has.
The Egyptian has now equalled the Reds' club record of 22 goals before the new year, and if Jurgen Klopp's men are going to claim a place in the top four, Salah's scoring spree will be central to their hopes.
2. Van Dijk arrival may help defensive issues
During their heights in the 1960s, The Beatles would be mobbed whenever they set foot out in public. Picture those scenes as Virgil van Dijk entered Anfield for the first time since his £75 million move earlier this week to watch his new side play. Not every club would offer such a rapturous welcome for a new defender, but the needs of this Liverpool side are clear. Saturday's defensive display proved that Van Dijk's arrival can't come quickly enough.
It's not that centre-halves Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip were particularly bad here, just their habit of making mistakes often undoes everything Liverpool do at the other end of the pitch.
It was Matip's turn to commit a costly error this time around. Just two minutes into the match, he sloppily gave possession straight back to Leicester and before you knew it, Riyad Mahrez found Vardy to make it 1-0.
Van Dijk, with his status and price tag, will be expected to paper over these cracks, but a change of goalkeeper may help with that process, too. Loris Karius was given a start on Saturday, although Klopp insisted the decision was taken entirely on the basis of rotation with a trip to Burnley following 48 hours after this.
Karius didn't do anything wrong against Leicester, and after five seasons of Simon Mignolet failing to convince, a change at No. 1 may help Liverpool's defensive cause as much as Van Dijk's arrival is expected to.
3. Vardy's goal heroics in vain
Vardy certainly saves his best performances for the big stage, and particularly when he comes up against Liverpool. Since August, nobody has scored as many goals against the Premier League's so-called "Big Six." His early goal at Anfield was the seventh time he has netted against the Reds in the league -- more than any other opponent in the top flight. On this occasion, however, it was all in vain.
Despite the result, the England striker seems to relish the space in these games, and that allows him to use his pace to annoy defenders in one-on-one duels when they have been left exposed.
Vardy, who rejected a chance to move to Arsenal after the Foxes' incredible title-winning campaign in 2015-16, remains their big-game player. Whether he would have enjoyed the same success with the Gunners is moot, of course, as at the moment things are set up perfectly for a player looking to book his place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad.
Claude Puel deserves credit for helping Vardy flourish on Saturday. His reign at Southampton was routinely branded as boring, but that certainly hasn't been the case at Leicester so far. The Frenchman is attempting to get his side to play an inventive style that allows them to go toe-to-toe with any opponent.
Their recent results have ultimately suffered, in large part, because of an inability to defend set pieces well. Of the 30 league goals that Leicester have conceded this term, 13 have been from dead ball situations.
That's a problem, but as long as they have Vardy, they have hope.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.