Leeds v Liverpool – The Preview
After the irritating International window ended, there came news of sanctions towards clubs who have Brazilian players. In keeping these players away from international duty, they ran the risk of FIFA enforced bans, and this game will most probably see Alisson Becker, Fabinho & Raphina unable to compete. With that being the case, both managers will now have to make their final preparations without such players, and the preview will unfortunately have to adhere to this ridiculous fact.
Liverpool resume their campaign after a disappointing draw versus Chelsea. The game ended 1-1, and a draw prior to kick off would have been widely accepted by both teams. The circumstances surrounding Chelsea playing the second half with 10 men, however, makes it feel like an opportunity lost. This away trip to Elland road represents a chance to regain momentum and turn seven points from three games, into ten from four for the reds. If Liverpool are to win this tough game ahead, it would represent a very good start to the season.
With Caoimhin Kelleher or Adrián vying to start in goal, Jürgen Klopp will no doubt look to enforce his will onto a stuttering Leeds outfit. With Leeds’ star player (Raphina) serving the before mentioned suspension, Klopp will undoubtedly look to attack from the outset. A recall for Diogo Jota seems certain (with Roberto Firmino out injured), leaving Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to take their spots either side. This potent three will look to expose Leeds, and overpower a team that could not handle Manchester United’s attacking play on the opening day.
The reds defence will undoubtedly see Trent Alexander Arnold, Joël Matip and Virgil Van Dijk start, with perhaps Konstantinos Tsimikas recalled to left back. Andy Robertson has just played three games for Scotland (after returning from injury), and may be held back for the Champions League game against AC Milan, on Wednesday night. Konstantinos Tsimikas will offer superb crossing abilities, and with Jota starting, this would give a clear means of proven attack.
The midfield now becomes more complicated, with Fabinho suspended. Jordan Henderson will no doubt move into the holding midfield role, with Thiago on one side. The injury concerns surrounding young Harvey Elliott (who withdrew from under 21 duty), means a start could be forthcoming for Curtis Jones, James Milner or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. One would assume Naby Keita’s difficult time away will see Klopp ease him back into action. James Milner has just returned from injury, and the Ox has been carrying out new parent duties, so a call to the impressive Curtis Jones could be a sensible way forward. This seems to be the more curious selection headache for Klopp, in what must be seen as an early season must win game.
Leeds enter the game on the back of two settling draws. Their opening day drubbing showed massive holes in their set up, and will have to make sure those gaps are filled against such strong opposition. Marcelo Bielsa will be happy for another draw to play out, though a probable tactical shift will be needed in the absence of Raphina. Tyler Roberts will be hoping for a call to start, after coming off the bench in their last two games against Everton and Burnley. The remainder of the team will probably stay the same, short of any late injuries.
The game will inevitably be played out at a strong pace, with pressing and hard work off the ball a necessity for each coach. The game will offer plenty of chances, but Leeds will need to show more resilience having conceded eight goals in their opening three games. Liverpool must now look to penetrate teams with more variation, and Thiago Alcantara returning to the side will be key to this. A once more solidified back line behind him will surely allow him to dictate play, and the three forwards will be looking to capitalise on his unique vision.
The performances of the two back lines will be key, and it’s hard to see Leeds overcoming Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk run defence, too often. The game will be an entertaining affair, but one I see Liverpool winning with too much quality on show.
Leeds 0 – 2 Liverpool