Magic Mo and credit the opponents – 5 talking points from Liverpool 4-3 Leeds

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Liverpool began the defence of their title in an entertaining 4-3 win over Leeds, with Mo Salah bagging a hat-trick but the defence looking poor.

Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United

Premier League (1), Anfield
September 12, 2020

Goals: Salah 4?, 33?, 88?, Van Dijk 20?; Harrison 12?, Bamford 30?, Klich 66?

 

A flying start

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (C) celebrates after scoring the first goal from a penalty-kick during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Any concerns about the pre-season lethargy were dismissed within five minutes with Liverpool flying out the blocks and Leeds looking a little star-struck.

Concerns that Liverpool might not be able to hit their usual intensity from the off were quickly dismissed.

A penalty after only three minutes and it seemed an easy win might be on the cards. Mo Salah dispatched it confidently becoming only the second player in Premier League history to score in four consecutive opening games.

But. Easy? Not a bit of it! Leeds quickly found their feet and took the game to Liverpool, pressing us, and hunting us down. It made for a fascinating, open and rather unexpected first half, with Liverpool just about edging it.

 

Dodgy defending

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk makes a mistake which leads to Leeds United's second goal during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When Jack Harrison waltzed past the right side of the Liverpool defence to score a superb solo goal on 11 minutes, you could possibly put it down to early-season rust, or just hold your hand up and applaud the goalscorer.

But it was actually a sign of things to come, with Liverpool’s back five exposed throughout. A combination of defensive indiscipline and individual errors was a recurring theme throughout the 90 minutes. Virgil Van Dijk was a shadow of his normal self, but he did score one of the crucial goals and almost bagged a second.

Liverpool’s ultimate firepower bailed the back five out this time, but it was a wake-up call for what is the first-choice defensive line-up.

 

4-3 Thriller Memories

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (C) celebrates after scoring the third goal to make the score 3-2 during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The comparisons are obvious. For Collymore and Fowler, read Mo Salah. All that was missing was the fans, because this was a breathtaking, thrilling encounter, every bit as heart-pounding as those legendary Newcastle games in the 1990s.

This was a thrill a minute, absolute corker of a game. Jurgen Klopp won’t be happy with the goals conceded and the team being breached so often, but as an advert for football, this was as entertaining as it gets.

Klopp and Bielsa, or Roy Evans and Kevin Keegan? Defending was secondary to thrilling, attacking football played at a high intensity. To do that without the crowd and in the opening game of the season is a credit to both sides.

 

Credit to Leeds

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Leeds United's manager Marcelo Bielsa reacts during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sometimes you just have to applaud the opposition rather than be critical of your own team’s performance and this was one such occasion.

Leeds looked very much the part, at least going forward and in terms of flair and invention. I can’t remember a team – even the supposed top teams – getting so many players in the Liverpool box so often.

There was a commendable bravery about the visitors, but whereas others who have tried to go toe-to-toe with the Champions have generally failed, Leeds enjoyed a fair amount of success.

It was almost like Liverpool were staring at themselves in a mirror, with Leeds’ high pressing, hunting in packs and quick counters a feature of the play. New to the Premier League the majority of these players might be, but they didn’t look out of place.

They almost continued their predecessor’s legacy of never losing an opening fixture in the Premier League, until Mo Salah broke their hearts in the last few minutes.

They look like an excellent addition to the Premier League on this performance, but this is Liverpool, we are the Champions, and this is a team with a winning mentality like no other.

 

Don’t underestimate Mo

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fourth goal, his hat-trick, from a penalty-kick to make the score 4-3 during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A third Liverpool hat-trick for Mo Salah was thoroughly deserved.

Yes, two of them were penalties, but his other was a thunderbolt and he tormented the Leeds defence throughout.

After a rather low-key preseason and a below-par end to last season, Mo was back to his unplayable best.

On a night with Sadio Mane hardworking but missing the final spark, and Bobby nowhere near his best, Mo was the pick of the Liverpool players and continued his remarkable statistics of goalscoring for the club.

We are very lucky to have this truly world-class striker.

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