There was no contest about Round 1′s match of the week in the Premier League. It was Liverpool and Leeds United at Anfield- the two teams played out an epic 7 goal thriller, and all that was sadly missing were the fans.
Liverpool as champions were the red hot favourites to dispatch Leeds and make light work of the newly promoted team. However there were two things standing in Liverpool’s way. Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa’s XI and history. Before talking about the Leeds boss, it is important to highlight the return of Leeds to the English top division after years in the shadows. Without doubt Leeds is a club that belongs among the top teams in England and the neutrals should wait till fans are allowed back because the club’s boisterous following would make Elland Road an intimidating place to visit. Don’t forget to check out Leeds United tickets here.
Bielsa is a character, a very good coach and pays attention to detail. Despite the fact that he can’t speak English, which is obviously going to be highlighted in press conferences, he is someone who will impress you with his work ethic and attention to detail. After the game even Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was all smiles for Bielsa’s side, he appreciated that Leeds as a team had at last come to Anfield and tried to win the game.
Then there is the history. Liverpool and Leeds will remind older generations of the classic days of the 1960s and 1970s, Bill Shankly for Liverpool and Don Revie for Leeds, some games could get very hairy with several bookings for both sides. It was a very different era of course but you could feel and evoke that some of that had filtered down onto Anfield in the year 2020.
The first goal was scored inside the very early minutes after Leeds defender Robin Koch handled the ball. This decision split football fans and the media down the line though because the ball appeared to hit another part of his body before it hit his arm. The referee gave the penalty regardless but the new laws clearly state if the ball hits your body and then your arm then it’s not a penalty. Mohamed Salah (who else?) slotted the ball home and it was expected that Liverpool would run riot and Leeds would fall apart. Not so quick!
Leeds drew level 8 minutes later through a superb Jack Harrison goal and the game was on. Following the Leeds United goalkeeper’s mistake, Virgin van Dijk- so deadly from crosses- headed one in unmarked on the 20th minute and Liverpool had taken the lead once more. We were witnessing end to end attacking football and every minute was being savoured. Patrick Bamford brought Leeds level for the second time after half an hour! The game was crazy, and the lucky few inside the stadium were enjoying it.
The goals weren’t about to stop there though and the champions came back to 3-2 up just three minutes later and it was Salah again with a beautiful dipping shot. Half time ended 3-2 to the Reds. Midway through the second half though Leeds incredibly made it 3-3 through a fine Mateusz Klich goal. It looked like the game would end in a draw which Leeds would have deserved but there was one final sting in the game.
Leeds gave away a bad penalty through Rodrigo, who stuck his foot out in the challenge. Usually late penalties can be controversial but Leeds had nothing to complain about here and with just two minutes remaining for all their attacking play and excitement Leeds had made a naive error. Salah stepped up to score again and win the game for Liverpool 4-3 and in doing so scored a hat trick, a perfect start for the Egyptian. And an enjoyable start for Liverpool, 3 points already in the pocket and 4 goals scored. Let’s hope their other games this season are as half as exciting.
As for Leeds well done to them, they played great and without fear, so if they keep that up then they should be able to stay in the Premier League this season while making an impact.
Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com