By: Ritchie Slack
The return of the kings. Premier League Champions vs Championship Champions. Merseyside vs Yorkshire. Klopp vs Bielsa. Liverpool F.C vs Leeds United
Liverpool are back to ‘attack the title’ once again and build upon last season’s domestic league success; whilst their confident counterparts Leeds United will be looking to establish themselves in the top division once more after a 16-year hiatus.
Anfield will play host to this momentous occasion where both teams will look to attack and excite those watching on television sets across the world.
Liverpool will be relishing the prospect of rectifying a disappointing Community Shield defeat with an opening three points at Anfield, but with the meticulous Bielsa at the Leeds helm, perhaps this isn’t as straight forward as The Reds would hope for; then again, when is an opening day fixture straight forward?
The Reds will start the Premier League season with an almost fully fit squad, with only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri the only confirmed absentees through injury and new signing Konstantinos Tsimikas also out after testing positive for coronavirus.
The game most likely comes too soon for Liverpool skipper, leader and midfield engine Jordan Henderson who suffered a knee injury at the back end of last season and also missed most of preseason.
Where Divock Origi is, we don’t seem to know, but Liverpool fans know to expect the unexpected when it comes to the Belgian, I wouldn’t rule him out being part of the match day squad if available.
If Divock Origi is not in the squad, expect to see the man deep in the rumour mill, Rhian Brewster to start on the bench. The same can be said for Gini Wijnaldum who, although touted for Barcelona, will be as professional as ever and could well feature for the Merseysiders after an enigmatic transfer window thus far.Embed from Getty Images
With Liverpool yet to make major moves in the market, Klopp is going to look to his tried and tested squad once more, a squad that’s getting odds at 9/4 to run it back and repeat as champions.
Leeds only have one major injury casualty in Gaetano Berardi who is out with an ACL injury, but have a fresh squad to choose from apart from the one definite absentee, although Adam Forshaw continues to struggle with a hip injury. Helder Costa is back in training and could feature for the visitors.
What to Expect From the League Newcomers
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Leeds and Bielsa will be an unknown quantity in the Premier League, but the players Jurgen Klopp will no doubt have had a close eye on will be newly-capped England star, Kalvin Phillips, who is more than competent in possession and now has the whole world watching as he plies his trade in the top division.
Liverpool will undoubtedly be relentless once more in pressing and pressuring, Phillips and co. will have to be at their very best again, as they were last season, in controlling possession across the park.
Record breaking signing Rodrigo traded Valencia for Yorkshire and will want to show why he is worth the £27m the Whites paid for the Spanish forward; Joe Gomez (should Klopp choose to play him after playing two 90 minute games on international duty) and Virgil Van Dijk will be sure to give him a warm, if not competitive, debut.
Two Clubs in Top League Form
Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield since April 2017, they have amassed a very impressive 59 games without tasting defeat in the league, and also faced newly promoted Norwich as their first game last season.
The visiting team also boast a notable opening day record, winning five and drawing seven of their last 12. Leeds will be fired up on their long-awaited return to the top-flight, and the tactical masterclass manager Marcelo Bielsa may feel the time to face the champions is now, with confidence high in his Leeds camp.
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This is a game which offers goals, with both teams preferring an attacking and tactical style and the fact that Liverpool have only managing to keep a clean sheet in 1 of their previous 9 games.
Leeds are having to face the formidable trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, who are never shy of creating chances and finding the net.
Leeds have not defeated Liverpool since 2001, and the last visit in 2016 in a League Cup tie ended with the Reds winning 2-0.
However, it is worth noting Bielsa’s side only conceded 35 goals in their domestic league last season. In short, anything can happen.
Other Things to Look For
• Salah could become only the second player to score on four consecutive opening day fixtures, only one player has achieved that feat, Teddy Sheringham
• If former Leeds man James Milner plays, it would mean he has played a part in Leeds last 31 Premier League games, even though they have been out of the division for 16 years. Like a fine wine…Embed from Getty Images
• Under Klopp Liverpool have had goal fests on the opening days, winning three and drawing one: 4-1, 4-0, 3-3 and 4-3.
Leeds can certainly ruin the Champions homecoming and title defence, and Bielsa would have had the time to methodically plan his assault and strategy, this is unlikely to be a one-sided event and Liverpool will have to be at their best to beat this Leeds team, but if they are, there is surely only one outcome.
Welcome back football, how we have missed you!