This was not an easy game to watch. The non-stop narrative over the past 24 hours has been focused on the Super League gamble that John Henry and Fenway Sports Group took, using the club that we all love in a game of chicken with UEFA rather than on the juicy match up with the always fun Leeds. A game that could have major implications for a Champions League spot next season felt hollow and fairly pointless for me and many other “legacy fans”. Despite the obvious distractions, Jürgen Klopp somehow had his side focused as they stepped onto the field, and the Reds looked lively from the off. The game ended up following a familiar pattern, however. Liverpool create lots of chances, but struggle to finish. They did manage to find a goal, but it was wiped out after conceding a late set piece goal in a second half dominated by Leeds.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
The Senegalese striker has been on a streak of ice cold finishing, but he finally found the back of the net against Leeds United. Diogo Jota played a sumptuous diagonal to Trent Alexander-Arnold at the top right corner of the box. The young Scouser one-touched the ball at full stretch to Mané, who quickly slotted the ball into the open net. For Mané, it was his first goal in the Premier League since the end of January.
The Brazilian shot stopper was phenomenal today. He made six saves, including several that required more than a modicum of bravery in 1v1 situations. Alisson kept Leeds at bay for 87 minutes, including during a period of one way traffic during the second half. There was little Alisson could do about the goal, unfortunately.
Bamford has become a bit of a cult favorite for the neutrals. A late bloomer who looks like he could be Michael Edwards younger brother, he is not overly blessed in the athletic department. Despite that, Bamford has managed to couple extremely smart movement with an incredible engine to continually pop up in good spots. He managed to hit the crossbar today, but it was his post match comments that really should be highlighted.
"It's amazing the amount of opera that comes in to the game when somebody's pockets are getting hurt, it's a shame it's not like that with racism."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 19, 2021
Patrick Bamford speaks openly about his thoughts on the prospect of a 'European Super League' pic.twitter.com/DolVMBBg7p
Liverpool spent the better part of over two seasons as one of the best set piece teams in the world, both offensively and defensively. When Virgil van Dijk went down injured, Liverpool lost most of their set piece mojo. According to Andrew Beasley, who likes to count these sorts of things, Liverpool have now failed to score off of their last 77 shots from set piece situations. Defensively, Liverpool have given up 7 goals from set pieces this season in all competitions, including the header off of a corner in the 87th minute today.
Seven, including:— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) April 19, 2021
WBA equaliser 1-1
Southampton winner 0-1
United winner (FA Cup) 2-3
Fulham winner 0-1
Leeds equaliser 1-1 https://t.co/JYDZC0roYh
Liverpool FC had some really nice moments of free-flowing football, especially in the first half. More often than not, however, the players just seemed to be on different wavelengths. The press often saw two players stepping into the same channel while one person frantically tried to put pressure on the ball carrier, leaving passing lanes wide open. Promising counter attacks fizzled out as players like Andrew Robertson got caught in two minds while his team had a numerical advantage, playing the ball too late for Diogo Jota to have any kind of an angle for a shot. This season has been a grind, mentally and physically, and it is showing in the way the team just can’t seem to play with that loose confidence of the last few years.
Dissecting the Narrative
Hoo boy, where even to begin. Liverpool came into this game in a good position to take some control in the race for a top 4 spot after West Ham lost on Saturday. Then the whole Super League thing happened, and now no one is sure of there is even anything to play for. UEFA is threatening to suspend all teams involved in the Super League from the Champions League and the Europa League next season at a minimum. The Super League has been rumored to be ready as soon as next season in retaliation, so if any of this holds water, Liverpool have nothing left to play for this season. Then again, a compromise could be reached and the results from this season could matter, so Liverpool dropping points in a game they led late could end up being massive.
What Happens Next
Well, all we know at this point is Liverpool will play out the current Premier League season. Liverpool will host Newcastle next Saturday, and we at TLO will write words about the game that may or may not matter. Or we’ll write about plate tectonics.