The entire point of football is entertainment. I know that can get lost in the journey but that’s really all this is. It’s supposed to just be something we watch, smile at, and move on with our lives. We’re the psychopaths who decide to care deeply about a game. If you weren’t entertained by Liverpool beating Leeds United by 4-3 then I’m not sure what to say to you. This is supposed to be fun and that was very fun. Live a little and let your hair down, we’re champions for a reason.
Liverpool weren’t at their best today. That’s okay, it’s the first match of the season and the last season ended like 34 minutes ago. There’s a reason for everything and we’ll chat later on about why Liverpool weren’t very good, but Leeds were very good. So much of the pre-match buildup was spent talking about Marcelo Bielsa and his refusal to change his approach. We saw today the best of that and the worst of that. 90 minutes of pure pressure. A lot of teams will play Liverpool home and away this season like cowards. Bielsa and his Leeds side aren’t that. That should be exalted.
If football were a computer you could put that match into a simulation and probably four or five times out of ten Liverpool win comfortably 3-0. But that’s not what football is and we’re better off because of it. Football is influenced by humans, error and brilliance alike. We get to see Virgil van Dijk make a mistake and we get to see Bielsa’s meticulous planning play off with some brilliant goals.
Let’s dig a little deeper into what we saw in Liverpool’s victory over Leeds.
Winners and Losers
It’s obvious that if a player scores a hattrick that includes the game winning goal at the end of the game, he automatically gets to be the first Winner. I remarked at halftime that Mo was the only Liverpool player who was actually having a game. It was an exaggeration but there was some truth in it. The stats speak for themselves:
Mohamed Salah for Liverpool against Leeds:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2020
◉ Most touches (87)
◉ Most completed passes in final third (35)
◉ Most shots (9)
◉ Most take-ons completed (7)
◉ Most chances created (4)
◉ Most shots on target (3)
◉ Most goals (3)
Mind-blowing numbers. pic.twitter.com/yOzsa3sidT
Sometimes we can take Robertson for granted. While every other Liverpool defender was trying to figure out why their boots were tied together, the Scottish leftback was defensively solid and provided a constant threat going forward.
Jurgen Klopp got all of his subs absolutely spot on. Henderson was really struggling as the deepest midfielder today because he’s still working his way back from injury and isn’t fully match fit. Fabinho came on and did what he does. And he won the penalty to win the game.
Curtis Jones provided a spark off the bench and gave the midfield some drive. He’s definitely one to watch for the future. What a talent he is. Constantly involved on and around the ball, not shying away from anything.
Defending, in general
Liverpool might have the best defense in the world. But the best defense wasn’t at their best today. van Dijk made a massive mistake that led to a goal. Joe Gomez was all over the shop. It’s obvious that Trent Alexander-Arnold is rusty and hasn’t had a preseason. Even Alisson could’ve had a better game.
Leeds gave up two penalties. They have mostly Championship quality defenders despite recently signing Robin Koch, a full German international. They’ll need to be better this season.
Bielsa’s blood pressure
It feels harsh to put this in the losers category, but I already have three winners and I get to make the rules. Leeds were setup brilliantly against Liverpool. Their press is very impressive (hehe, that’s a pun). Their third goal in particular showed that Bielsa had done his homework and knows where to attack Liverpool’s back line. They could’ve got something from this game if they could defend set pieces and not concede dumb penalties.
What Happens Next?
Liverpool made tough work against Leeds and they face Chelsea next. The London club spent the summer buying just about every attacking player in Europe, but no one knows how everyone will gel together. The Reds will need to be focused to beat Chelsea. Clean up the mistakes and things should be good. It’ll be fun no matter what.