The new season’s up and running and parts of Saturday’s game at Anfield had me lost for words. Like me, I doubt you could catch your breath in the first half as the goals kept flying in.
Liverpool came out of it as the happier side, I think, but only just. Put it this way, if Rodrigo doesn’t commit that daft foul and it finishes 3-3, Jurgen Klopp probably has more to think about than Marcelo Bielsa. Perhaps he does anyway because Leeds United showed a lot of what they needed to show at Anfield. They look like they’ll be able to properly compete in the Premier League.
With Liverpool, we’re talking about the title. That’s their benchmark. And if I’m being honest, they seemed a bit flat, like their foot was off the gas. They were a bit too relaxed and if you take Mo Salah out of the equation, I reckon Leeds win that game. Salah’s sensational but some of Klopp’s other players didn’t come to life in the same way.
What Leeds did well was exploit Liverpool down their right, which is where you can get at Liverpool. Across the other side of the field, Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson are a pair you can usually rely on (okay, Van Dijk didn’t have a good day but we know what he’s like at his best). The combination of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold isn’t as reliable and that was Leeds’ route to their first goal. It came as no surprise that Bielsa had done his homework.
What I love about Leeds is how controlled their football is, even though a lot of it looks like mayhem. They know what they’re about and they’re so happy with Bielsa’s tactics. The first half was a treat to watch but in the second, when the game settled down, you started to see Leeds as they usually are under Bielsa. They have this intensity, an inner confidence, that gets to other teams and I don’t think Liverpool enjoyed the battle.
Liverpool needed to start the season with a win and they have, so job done in that respect but I think some concerns are there about the depth in certain positions and their business in the transfer market. They can’t afford to go stale. As for Leeds, performing well was the priority on Saturday but it’ll annoy them that they didn’t come away with a point. Maybe there was a touch of naivety in the end. Sometimes if you’re a few minutes away from a point at Anfield, you need to know what’s good for you (even though Bielsa will attack and attack to the end). Sometimes it is better to accept that a draw will do nicely.
One question the weekend answered emphatically was what Leeds will bring to the Premier League. There might have been errors all over the place from both teams but that there was football you want to watch. If you’ve been asleep through Bielsa’s two years at Leeds, this is what you’ve been missing. And the thing about his Leeds squad is they can keep this standard up for a long, long time. Liverpool won’t be the only club who get a run for their money.