The good, the bad and why bother? – Debating Leeds 1-1 Liverpool

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There is a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Leeds to discuss, but ultimately, was the outcome at Elland Road even remotely relevant?

It was a flat evening after what had happened earlier in the day, but the Reds had an important match to focus on.

Things looked to be going smoothly after Sadio Mane‘s first-half opener, but Jurgen Klopp‘s men lost their way after the break.

Leeds had numerous chances to equalise and it was Diego Llorente who eventually found the net, heading home late in the evening.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by Dan Clubbe (@dan_clubbe) and Rory Greenfield (@RoryGreenfield), to discuss the result, but more importantly, if any of this even matters anymore.

 

The good…

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané kneels to pray as he celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by Propaganda)

DAN: Aside from it being a sweet reprieve from what had been a chastening 24 hours, the performance for an hour at least was impressive for the most part.

Trent once again proved why he should be considered the best in his position not to be eligible to play for England.

He was outstanding in the first half especially, and was perhaps unfortunate not to play a hand in more goals.

Diogo Jota continued to impress, and although his finishing was lacking its usual precision, his direct running and ability to make things happen is joyous.

Jurgen Klopp sticking to his guns pre-match. What a fella.

Also, a mention for Alisson, who kept us in the match having deservedly come in for criticism recently.

HENRY: I’m with Dan that Trent was the standout player for me, he has responded so well to that ludicrous England saga.

Alisson was also excellent, making several top saves, and I thought Andy Robertson showed more energy than he has in recent months.

Seeing Sadio Mane finally end his goal drought in the Premier League was a clear positive, too, and as Dan says, it was nice to have an actual match to focus after a horrible day.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's James Milner shoots during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by Propaganda)

RORY: A positive approach to the match, that for once resulted in a first-half goal.

It’s rare that Liverpool dominance has seen the side come out on top at half time, but they were in control and showed signs of the quality we’d grown accustomed to in recent seasons.

Leeds are a tough side, so I was pleasantly surprised by the control. They’ve troubled top-six sides all season, but Liverpool and Klopp approached the game like they remembered they were champions not so long ago.

Jota toiled and gave the Leeds defence a torrid time by dropping into midfield and rotating with Firmino and Mane, which gave him an advantage over Leeds’ man-marking approach.

Thiago snapped into challenges, played key passes and dominated with the high energy certain sections of the media doubted he could offer.

Trent was a constant outlet and found space regularly, as the other lads allude to, giving the crucial assist to Mane, who finally broke his goalscoring slump.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold prepares to take a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by Propaganda)

Kabak was extremely impressive once more and Alisson was magnificent in goal, rescuing the defence time and time again. Sadly his efforts weren’t enough.

There are good individual performances, but they don’t necessarily translate to a complete team performance. The weight of this season has shown for some time, but recent results in the league have shown this side can still grind out results.

Sadly it wasn’t to be, but does league position even mean anything now?

 

The bad…

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' after the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

DAN: What did it even mean? It was so easy to forget that we were playing up until the teams were announced.

I had hoped to have seen the last of Fabinho back in defence, but the biggest takeaway and what proved decisive was just how profligate the Reds were in front of goal.

Any one of Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah could’ve wrapped up the points long before Leeds even got a foothold.

HENRY: As Mr Clubbe correctly states, it was again poor finishing that let Liverpool down, as has been the case so much this season.

The centre-back woes have clearly been a major issue, but that lack of end product has arguably been just as bad.

I praised Robbo above, but his woeful pass when Liverpool broke away at 1-0 proved crucial, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also sloppy with his touch in stoppage time.

Failing to battle to a gritty win was also disappointing, again showing how the Reds’ mentality has changed this season. Last year, they win that game 1-0.

RORY: The inevitable second-half drop-off from a side that has struggled to finish off teams all season long, with chances squandered and counter-attacks ruined by endless poor passes and decisions, as the lads mentioned.

You often forget that Liverpool were one of the greatest counter-attacking times in world football, which tore teams apart with devastating ease. Now they look like strangers, who look bemused when a teammate isn’t standing in the exact spot a blind pass is made.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' after the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

For all the talk of injuries and defensive issues, the attack might need as much focus in the next window, as the other areas of the squad, if not more.

Other than Jota and Salah, there is little goal threat in this side. Yes Mane’s form might be temporary, but I just fear he’s lost a spark. That yard of pace and directness, which made him so difficult to handle.

Firmino, whilst never a consistent goalscorer, offers little to no threat now and that feels like a steady decline over the last two seasons.

As for goals from midfield, there aren’t nearly enough.

As soon as Leeds began to gain a foothold, Liverpool quickly succumbed to old habits, dropping deeper and our press beginning to falter. Sadly, Klopp failed to counter this.

It’s all a bit predictable and that’s not something I expected to happen with this squad under Klopp’s tenure.

 

And why bother?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 19, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

DAN: Whilst the game certainly had a feel of that, there’s a part of me that lives in the hope this whole murky saga remains hyperbole and will ultimately prove to be a bargaining tool for a less dramatic change.

That said, there’s no doubt the match felt more hollow than usual, which is saying something in an empty stadium.

Credit to the players for the most part, who despite the noise that they were no doubt in attuned to, produced a display that looked as though they wanted to win, and above all else, fight.

HENRY: I do agree with Dan that I’m hoping this all blows over – frankly, it feel SO bad that I just can’t envisage it actually happening!

Mondays are never great at the best of times, but I found myself in a daze throughout the day and during the game, with the equaliser not affecting me in the slightest.

That’s not right.

I can only pray that everyone in the game, from fans to players to managers, reacts so furiously to what’s going on that this disgraceful group of six owners end up failing to get their wish.

If they end up getting their way, though, I wonder if I’ll ever love football in the same way again. That saddens me greatly.

RORY: Like Dan and Henry, I can’t lie, it was the strangest I’d felt going into a match in quite some time.

Given the season we’ve had, with the constant disappointments, the lack of supporters and inevitable VAR horror shows, that’s saying something.

The lineup was announced an hour before and I shrugged. It’s not that I don’t care – whenever I watch Liverpool play I always want them to succeed, you can’t simply switch off those emotions – but I kept asking myself, ‘what does any of this now mean? Does top four actually equate to something for next season, or not?’

The announcement of the European Super League less than 36 hours ago has major ramifications for the game we know and love, even if there is some walk back.

The national outcry from supporters, media and even the government is rather overwhelming. I’m personally still trying to wrap my head around it.

I struggle with the talk that the beautiful game has died, or something to that dramatic effect. To me, this iteration of football is not one has been for the fans since Sky took the rights from terrestrial and placed it firmly behind a paywall.

Leeds, Super League, earn it shirt (Lee Smith/PA)

The inevitable increase of ticket costs, higher shirt prices and commercialisation of the game has steadily increased over the last decade.

The Super League, or some notion of it, has been floated for as long as I can remember, and whilst I was surprised by the sudden announcement, I wasn’t shocked by its arrival.

The pandemic may have sped up the process slightly, but from a British perspective, six doesn’t go into four and at some point that was going to cause a change.

Is this all reversible? Yes. Will this have lasting reproductions? Yes. Will this article be outdated within 10 minutes of being released? Almost definitely.

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