It’s champions vs. champions on opening day as Liverpool start the 2020/21 Premier League season with a clash against the newly-promoted Leeds United.
Liverpool vs. Leeds United
Saturday, September 12, 2020 – 5.30pm (BST)
Premier League (1)
Referee: Michael Oliver
In what feels like a blink of an eye, Liverpool are back in competitive action – just 48 days since the prolonged 2019/20 campaign ended.
The title-winning season is now in the rearview mirror as the Reds look to tackle a new campaign, one which will continue to present new challenges in what is a congested schedule.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side have yet to fire on all cylinders in pre-season, while the end of the 2019/20 campaign was one which saw their foot taken off the accelerator having clinched the title in record time with seven games remaining.
But they will need to be switched on when Marcelo Bielsa’s side arrive at Anfield, with Leeds United back in the Premier League for the first time since the 2003/04 season.
After a 16-year wait, Leeds secured automatic promotion after finishing atop of the Championship table, playing high octane football with an ever-changing system.
A close compact unit, the Whites fluidly transition from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and even a 3-3-1-3 system dependent on the opposition and the in-game situation.
They will present a welcome test on the opening day of Liverpool’s title defence, but Klopp’s men are no doubt favourites to collect their first three points of the season.
The international break was one which, thankfully, did not result in any setbacks for members of the Liverpool brigade.
Andy Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum, Virgil van Dijk, Neco Williams, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold all saw action, with the latter provided his first minutes since the end of the campaign having missed the pre-season camp in Austria.
Elsewhere, Divock Origi allayed fears of an ongoing injury by featuring in the final pre-season friendly against Blackpool, netting in the 7-2 win.
And Joel Matip made welcome progress having played the opening 45 minutes, his first since the meeting at Everton in what was football’s return from lockdown.
Captain Jordan Henderson returned to full training during the week after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury and will likely only be in contention for minutes off the bench, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains in the early stages of his rehabilitation from a similar injury.
Meanwhile, Kostas Tsimikas was reported to have tested positive for coronavirus during his time with Greece, which has yet to be confirmed by the club.
Possible Leeds XI: Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Koch, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison; Bamford
Last 5 at Home to Leeds (All Competitions)
Won 2-0 – November 2016 (Origi, Woodburn)
Won 3-1 – October 2003 (Owen, Murphy, Sinama-Pongolle; Smith)
Won 3-1 – March 2003 (Owen, Murphy, Gerrard; Viduka)
Drew 1-1 – October 2001 (Murphy; Kewell)
Lost 2-1 – April 2001 (Gerrard; Ferdinand, Bowyer)
Did You Know?
The occasion marks Leeds‘ first outing in the Premier League since the 2003/04 season, one which saw our very own James Milner feature for his boyhood club as an 18-year-old.
And this is where you need to prepare to have your mind blown.
The ever-brilliant Richard Jolly provided the insane stat that if Liverpool’s No. 7 features against Leeds on Saturday, he will have played in each of the Whites’ last 31 topflight matches.
Where one of those games back in 2003/04 saw him play against someone who turns 57 this month, that being former Man City, Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 7-2 vs. Blackpool
Drew 1-1 vs. Arsenal (lost 5-4 on pens)
Drew 2-2 vs. Salzburg
Won 3-0 vs. Stuttgart
Won 3-1 vs. Newcastle
Leeds – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 3-1 vs. Pacos de Ferreira
Lost 3-0 vs. Stoke City
Won 4-0 vs. Charlton
Won 3-1 vs. Derby
Won 1-0 vs. Barnsley
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp praised Bielsa’s team:
“They are well drilled. The things they do is absolutely brilliant. The way they defend is exceptional.
“They will do well in the Premier League, 100 per cent. They will know it, that the Premier League probably suits them more than the Championship. They can show their full potential.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Liverpool vs. Leeds United will be live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage starting at 5pm (BST) ahead of the 5.30pm kickoff.
Chris Williams will be keeping you entertained and up to date with all the action on This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, starting from 4.45pm (BST).