Leeds United’s unpredictableness in the Premier League (PL) this season may have reached a high in recent weeks, as each of their past seven league games (W2, D1, L3) yielded a different outcome than the match before. To the Elland Road faithful’s dismay, Javi Gracia’s team recently suffered their worst league defeat of the year a thrashing 5-1 loss to Crystal Palace.
The Whites are now firmly entrenched in the relegation fight as a result of that outcome, with their major worries exemplified by the fact that they have only managed five clean sheets in their last 41 games. That record puts a lot of emphasis on their offense, but one of the times they have outscored their opponents came in their illustrious 2-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield back in October. If they can pull off an upset here, they will win the league double over the Reds for the first time since the 2000–01 season.
The fact that Liverpool hasn’t lost at Elland Road in seven trips there (W5, D2) since that setback in November 2000 may be the only thing going for them. While their tenacity was evident in their comeback 2-2 draw with league leaders Arsenal in the previous round, the truth is that was their fifth straight game without a win (D2, L3), meaning they now face six straight games without a win for the first time under manager Jürgen Klopp.
As a result, the Reds can almost kiss their aspirations of finishing in the top four goodbye, and another subpar performance away from home might just be the icing on the cake. But even though Liverpool has a strong record here, they have only managed three victories on their league travels this year (D4, L8), and they have averaged less than a goal scored per away game for the first time in their PL history.
Although Patrick Bamford assisted on the game-winning goal in the previous meeting, he’ll be motivated to score here after scoring his last four goals exclusively at home. Virgil van Dijk, the stalwart center defender for Liverpool, will not only try to keep Bamford quiet but also maybe make a move forward after scoring (G2) or providing an assist (A1) in three straight victories over Leeds.
Tyler Adams and Stuart Dallas won’t be able to return from thigh injuries for Leeds just yet, but Maximilian Wober has trained this week and will have every opportunity to show that he is fit.
A change should be coming following last weekend’s disastrous class, according to Gracia, who also disclosed that a few nameless members of his squad were dealing with physical issues.
Rasmus Kristensen, Liam Cooper, and Rodrigo are other potential replacements for Gracia’s forward line, while Wilfried Gnonto can undoubtedly anticipate being called back.
Alisson Becker and Ibrahima Konate, who have both missed a few training sessions this week, have caused Klopp new concerns at Anfield, but both essential defensive players should be put through their paces over the weekend and are anticipated to be fine for the game.
Luis Diaz will make his long-awaited return from a major knee injury on Monday; the Colombian will sit on the bench. However, Stefan Bajcetic (adductor), Naby Keita (muscle), and Calvin Ramsay (knee) are all still in the treatment area.
Thiago Alcantara and Darwin Nunez are set to replace Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, respectively, despite Firmino’s significant performance against Arsenal.
After clearing things up with referee Constantine Hatzidakis about an alleged elbow in last Sunday’s tie, Andy Robertson will also start; the FA has decided against taking any further action against Hatzidakis, and Robertson has accepted an apology.
Possible starting lineup for Leeds United
Meslier, Kristensen, Koch, Cooper, Firpo, McKennie, Roca, Harrison, Rodrigo, Gnonto and Bamford.
Possible starting lineup for Liverpool
Alisson, Alexander Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Gakpo, and Nunez.
We predict: Leeds United 1-3 Liverpool
Leeds’ attackers might have a field day if Liverpool plays as they did for the first 35 minutes against Arsenal. Leeds’ defenders are in for a difficult ride if Klopp’s side gets going right away.
Leeds’ weaknesses don’t lie in the offensive third, but a Liverpool team that gave the league leaders a great fight last weekend should expose their brittle back line and Diaz’s return will only increase the Reds’ potency in the penalty area.