Liverpool vs Leeds
| Wednesday, February 23rd |
Premier League | Anfield
7:45PM BST / 2:45PM EST
With the Premier League title race reportedly back on and a cup final just around the corner, Liverpool will have to make sure they stay focused against a Leeds team that finds itself perilously close to the relegation zone.
Between covid, injuries, and a playing style that lends itself to high variance and cricket scores, Marcelo Bielsa has not been having an easy time of it in his second season managing Leeds’ Premier League return. The peacocks have conceded more goals than any other side in the league not named Norwich, and with Patrick Bamford missing copious minutes with his foot injury, the team have been increasingly reliant on the dynamic but mercurial Raphinha carrying their offense.
Fans will no doubt recall the reverse fixture less for the emphatic 3-0 scoreline and more for the horrendous injury to Harvey Elliott — as well as the shameful chants that followed from the home support — but the most important thing for the Reds is to capitalise on their moment and rack up another three points against a side that has not beaten Liverpool in over 20 years.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Elliott; Diaz, Mané, Salah
With the only certainty for the weekend’s League Cup final against Chelsea being Caoimhín Kelleher starting, it’s difficult to predict what kind of line-up Jürgen Klopp will go with here, but at the back end of the pitch, at least, he can choose freely.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was rested entirely at the weekend and is likely to start, while Andy Robertson is also expected to return. Joe Gomez’s run-out against Norwich showed some rust in what is not his favourite position, and the real question is which one of Joël Matip and Ibrahima Konaté partners Virgil van Dijk in central defense.
In midfield, Fabinho is likely to return after spending the entirety of the last game on the bench, while Jordan Henderson could be rested following an intense 90 minutes, leaving space for Thiago to make another start. The most interesting aspect, though, is whether Harvey Elliott is allowed a chance to strike back against the side that saw him miss nearly five months with a dislocated ankle.
Up top, both Diogo Jota and Roberto Fimino will miss out through injury, and so a combination of Luis Díaz, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah appears most likely, with the trio coming off a performance in which they all scored. A surprise start for one of Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi is not entirely out of the question, however.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “It’s Leeds and you have to be ready for these kind of runs all of the time, and they never give up on top of that. They had really spectacular results – high scores and all these kind of things, both directions. We have to make sure that we are 100 per cent spot on.”
Marcelo Bielsa: “They are one of the great teams in the league. Like every game, we will try to prevent their attacks from damaging us and make our attacks damage them.“
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Tony Harrington
VAR: Lee Mason, Darren Cann
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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.