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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Costly Win Over Leeds United

With a dominating 3-0 victory over Leeds in the books, we take a closer look at what it all means for the Reds.

Leeds United v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ellend Road was buzzing ahead of the match, but visiting Liverpool took the game by the scruff of the neck. Liverpool’s midfield was dominant, controlling proceedings and springing attack after attack. Liverpool struggled with their finishing again, but still managed to put three past the Leeds defense.

Of course, there was a pall cast across the win. Harvey Elliott had his ankle dislocated by a horror tackle in the 63rd minute. Elliott had his ankle put back in place, and was taken to the hospital. We are all hoping that he can come back from strong from the severe injury.


Winners

Mo and Co
Mohamed Salah led things on the front line, but Diogo Jota and Sadio Mané were heavily involved as Liverpool created opportunity after opportunity.

Salah in particular was fantastic on the right wing. He has been much more involved in the build up this season, and created four key passes today, and was a constant threat on the dribble. He finished of a great team sequence in the 20th minute for his 100th Premier League goal.

Diogo Jota was also popping up everywhere today, though he didn’t get on the score sheet. His ability to just sneak into dangerous spaces is sensational, and he almost managed to finish off a couple of moves. He also lead the team with six key passes, and was dangerous in transition.

Sadio Mané was extremely dangerous in all phases of the game outside of his finishing. He led the team with 10 shots, and did manage to finally sneak one into the goal at the end of the game. He finished the game an xG of 2 according to Understat, and is currently sitting on 2 goals from an xG of 3.52 for the 4 games so far this season. His underlying stats are still great, and he is pretty obviously putting teams like Leeds on their heels. A slight regression back up to the mean and he will be in for a big season.

The Fabinho/Thiago Midfield Nexus
While the attack, and Mohamed Salah in particular, looked great, but the game was owned by Fabinho and Thiago in midfield. Thiago was sensational breaking the press early in the game as Leeds tried to set the tone. His ability to make a quick turn and then play a perfect diagonal ball helped Liverpool get into the attack early and often. He also completed over 90% of his 61 passes, including a perfect 4 for 4 in long passes. He also put in 4 tackles as well to lead the team in that category.

Fabinho was just as good, especially on the defensive end. He used his long legs to good effect, intercepting 5 passes, and basically made the middle of the field a Bermuda Triangle for the Leeds attack. The Brazilian also managed to pop up in the box to scramble the ball into the net from a corner kick for good measure.

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent was phenomenal today on both sides of the ball. The Scouser provided the assist to Mohamed Salah for the opening goal, and was milimeters away from setting up Diogo Jota as well. He finished the day with 5 key passes, and also managed to fire off 3 shots from his right back position. On the defensive side, he did a nice job in 1v1 situations against both Jack Harrison and Daniel James, and won a couple of headers as well.


Losers

Player Safety
This isn’t meant as a sour grapes statement about the (abjectly awful) refereeing of Craig Pawson, or as a shot at the studio personalities talking about the “intent” of the tackle. None of that matters. What matters is how we have basically all seen some sort of horror injury coming, and the PGMOL and the Premier League have done nothing to curtail the issue despite the likes of Jürgen Klopp highlighting the agrarian tackles time and time again.

For Liverpool, players like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané have been targeted by rough challenges for years, but it has been rare to see a foul called, and instead they have been labeled as divers any time the go to ground (though there are some additional reasons for that). Most recently, it has been 18 year old Harvey Elliott who was targeted buy Burnley for their thuggish treatment, including a very similar tackle to what we saw today with no foul called.

Today, Pascal Struijk hooked a leg in from behind, and scissored his back leg through, trapping Elliott’s planted foot. Pawson initially waved play on as Elliott went down, and only awarded a red card minutes later after seeing the gruesome outcome.

Tackles are absolutely part of the game, but until the league and the referees start to set a precedent on the obviously dangerous tackles, intended as such or not, player will be emboldened to lunge into players from terrible angles.

Divock Origi
The Belgian striker wasn’t named to the bench despite the injuries to Roberto Firmino and Takumi Minamino. Origi only managed 182 minutes in the Premier League last year, and seems likely not even to match that this season.


From the Manager


What Happens Next

With four games played, Liverpool are sitting atop the Premier League on 10 points with Manchester United and Chelsea. The Reds are about to enter their first busy stretch of the season as they kick off their Champions League group stage matches on Wednesday at home to AC Milan. Liverpool will then host Crystal Palace at Anfield next Saturday.