With hopes of a Premier League title push renewed, Liverpool prepare for battle against Leeds United at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
Jurgen Klopp’s side survived a scare to beat Norwich City 3-1 last time out, while the Whites’ efforts against Manchester United were in vain during a 4-2 defeat.
Norwich threatened the shock of all shocks when Milot Rashica’s strike took a significant deflection off Joel Matip into the back of the net, but Liverpool soon found their groove in front of the Kop to pile even more pressure on Manchester City.
Sadio Mane’s acrobatic effort preceded Mohamed Salah’s 150th goal in Liverpool colours, and after the old faithful attackers had produced the goods, new arrival Luis Diaz struck his first goal for the club in clinical fashion to round off a simple win.
Following Man City’s surprise home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, the 2021-22 title is no longer out of reach for this Liverpool side, who have closed the gap at the top of the table to six points while boasting a game in hand on the reigning champions.
Klopp has claimed that the visit of Leeds will represent Liverpool’s most important league match of the season so far, but domestic silverware elsewhere will soon take precedence, as the Reds may already have an eye on the EFL Cup final with Chelsea on February 27.
However, having won each of their last eight matches in all competitions and holding the honour of being the only Premier League side yet to lose a top-flight game at home this season, the Anfield faithful will expect nothing less than another dominant showing against leaky Leeds.
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the match on February 20, 2022© Reuters
From a bruised and bloodied Robin Koch, torrid conditions and a goal-fest, Leeds’ reunion with Man United certainly lived up to the hype, and the Whites threatened quite the turnaround as Rodrigo’s cross-cum-shot and Raphinha’s tap-in cancelled out Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes’s first-half headers.
However, two inspired changes from Ralf Rangnick turned the tide in Man United’s favour, as Fred restored the Red Devils’ lead before Anthony Elanga – who was struck by a coin while celebrating the Brazilian’s goal – calmly slotted home through the legs of Illan Meslier.
It was refreshing to see Leeds’ commitment to attacking still very much alive, but that 4-2 loss has done nothing to aid their prospects of a third consecutive season in the Premier League, with Marcelo Bielsa’s men down in 15th and just five points clear of the bottom three.
The Whites have now lost three of their last four in the top flight and have shipped at least three goals in each of their last three, so it will come as no surprise to learn that Bielsa’s breachable defence are still seeking their first clean sheet of 2022.
Furthermore, Leeds’ tally of 29 goals conceded on the road this term represents the worst defensive record of its kind in the top flight, and Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win at Elland Road earlier this season to leave the Whites still awaiting their first victory in this fixture since 2001.