LIVERPOOL VS. LEEDS UNITED
| Saturday, September 12th |
Premier League | Anfield
5:30PM BST/12:30PM EST
It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here. Or it’s here and never really left. Either way, the Premier League goes again tomorrow. Liverpool football goes again. A month later than normal and just six weeks since we last saw Jürgen Klopp’s all conquering Reds close out a triumphant, dominant, interrupted-by-a-global-pandemic 2019-20 campaign.
Now, on Saturday against Leeds United, it all starts again. A group that won 196 points over the past two seasons, that won the club’s first domestic league title in three decades as well as a Champions League, Super Cup, and Club World Cup over that span, will go again. Will look to defend their title—and to win the league for the 20th time.
There’s not a lot more to say than that, perhaps. We know this team, this squad, this group of players. So far, only backup left back Kostas Tsimikas has been added to a group that saw only the addition of backup goalkeeper Adrian last summer. We know exactly what they’re capable of—the only question is if they can continue to perform.
Over the past two years, this group has been by any measure one of Europe’s top three sides. If they can stay fit and hungry there is no reason why they cannot be that for a third season in a row. But this group has played a lot of football, and staying on top is difficult. On Saturday, we start to get the answer as to whether they can.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
With Henderson only rejoining full training this week the captain likely isn’t ready to start, and based on pre-season that leaves only one real question—does Gini Wijnaldum shift to cover for him opposite Naby Keïta or does Klopp change things up, utilising either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-2-2 system with Takumi Minamino in as an attacking midfielder.
The latter might be more fun for the simple fact it would be a new twist for the Reds; the former is probably the safer bet after what we’ve seen the past few years. As for how Leeds will set up, it’s hard to say given manager Marcelo Bielsa utilised multiple formations last season and freely switched between three and four at the back.
Given the combative Argentine’s reputation as perhaps the most well-prepared manager in football and that sides with three at the back often struggle to mark the Reds’ front line, our guess would be for a more traditional four-man defence rather than something more unique like the stacked 3-3-3-1 Leeds have sometimes played.
Whatever approach Bielsa’s side takes, though, it is certain they will be well prepared, that they will be fresh, and that they will be ready to run harder than many of the opponents Liverpool will face this season—they may be a newly promoted side, but they’re a newly promoted side few if any expect to be going straight back down.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “Leeds will do well in the Premier League—it will suit them more than the Championship. If we are not ready for their intensity then we will have a problem.”
Marcelo Bielsa: “Liverpool are a champion with a consistent style, without a doubt one of the best teams in the world. We prepared for this, now we need to show it on the pitch.”
Referee: Michael Oliver. Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett. Fourth Official: Mike Dean.
Kickoff is set for 5:30PM BST/12:30PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.