Premier League’s Game of the Week: Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United

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.

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Marcelo Bielsa finally runs of out patience at Marseilles

Following Olympique de Marseilles’ 1-0 defeat to Caen in their opening French Ligue 1 game, manager Marcelo Bielsa tendered his resignation, with reports suggesting CEO Philippe Perez and lawyer Igor Levin altered his previously-agreed contract extension as ordered by club owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

Bielsa has been hamstrung at Marseilles due to the ongoing players sales each summer, but he enjoyed an impressive debut season and was willing to extend his stay in France. However, a perceived “lack of trust” has caused him to promptly depart the Stade Vélodrome this summer to the surprise of many. The coach then released a statement following his exit.

“We reached an agreement to extend the contract for 2016-17, and I have since been thinking everything was cleared up. But last Wednesday, I was called in to meet with the CEO (Perez) and attorney Igor Levin (Louis-Dreyfus’ legal representative) and they informed me that they would like to adjust some points of the agreement we had previously reached,” he said.

“It was after this meeting that I’d reached my decision. I rejected important offers to continue at Marseille because I was very interested in this project, but today I cannot accept this unstable situation brought on by the move to change the terms of the contract. Working together demands a little bit of trust and now we do not have that.”

Bielsa has had a tough overhaul to see to, with Marseilles having lost some key players in the last 12 months. Mathieu Valbuena, Lucas Mendes, Jordan Ayew and Morgan Amalfitano have been offloaded in Biela’s first campaign at the club, while Giannelli Imbula, Dimitri Payet, André Ayew, André-Pierre Gignac and Rod Fanni left the side this summer.

The 60-year-old head coach was appointed at L’OM in the summer of 2014, leading the side to 4th in his debut season. However, the French club will be looking for a new manager after losing Bielsa, and took a parting shot at their ex-coach for the manner of exit.

“The board of Olympique de Marseille did everything, but under no circumstances can OM be held prisoner to the demands of someone who places their personal interests well above those of the institution. Marseille is imbued with unique values and possesses a sufficiently rich history to refuse to subject itself to the law of a single man.”

It’s a sad way for the two parties to end association, and there doesn’t look to be any reprieve for Marcelo Bielsa at Olympique de Marseilles.