Liverpool head to Leeds knowing they can deal them a big blow in the relegation fight, but will they fall short against a struggling team yet again?
The Reds displayed some much-needed heart to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal last time around, but their season is still petering out.
On Monday evening, they head to Leeds knowing that a top-four finish is almost impossible, although Europa League qualification remains a strong possibility.
Liverpool will come up against a Whites side sitting 16th in the table and only two points above the drop zone, so it is a big night for the hosts.
With kickoff nearly upon us, we had a chat with Leeds fans and writer Freddie Smith (@fbsmith3) to hear about his team’s survival chances, Liverpool’s future and Monday’s game.
How happy are you with Leeds’ season?
After a fairly promising start to the season, picking up seven points from our first three games, the team have struggled to put a run of results together and been in and around the relegation zone for most of the campaign.
Leeds only managed to win two league matches from 18 games at one stage this season, which ultimately led to the departure of Jesse Marsch.
We were hoping for more stability and consistency after a rollercoaster of a campaign last year, but that just isn’t the Leeds way.
Would you continue with Gracia beyond the summer?
Javi Gracia has been a calming influence around the club since taking over at Elland Road, and he’s managed to yield a credible 10 points from a possible 21.
The defeat to Crystal Palace last week was a real blow, not just in terms of losing to a relegation rival, but the manner in which the team capitulated in the second half.
If Gracia keeps Leeds up, though, I would be happy to see him given the job permanently as he is clearly a very astute and pragmatic manager.
Who else would you potentially like instead?
We’ve been heavily linked with Andoni Iraola, the current manager of Rayo Vallecano who sit ninth in La Liga.
The rumours were that Iraola turned down the chance to take over at Leeds when Marsch was dismissed back in February, so it will be interesting to see if the club pursue him again in the summer.
Another name mentioned is Arne Slot, in charge at Eredivisie table-toppers Feyenoord, but the decision on who will be in the hot seat at Elland Road all depends on what division Leeds find themselves in at the start of the 2023/24 campaign.
Which Leeds players have stood out or struggled this season?
The standouts have been two of our new signings – Tyler Adams and Willy Gnonto.
It’s fair to say that both arrived at the club as unknown quantities, but their performances coupled with their clear passion for the game have made them firm fan favourites.
A special mention must also go to Rodrigo, who has scored an impressive 11 goals from 23 games after only scoring 13 league goals in the previous two seasons combined.
Meanwhile, mainstays of the side Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford have been unable to find much consistency this season.
New recruit Brenden Aaronson cost the club £25 million last summer, but has struggled with the physicality of the Premier League with only four goal contributions to date.
As for Liverpool, how do you assess their campaign to date?
Sitting in eighth position in the league, it’s clear to see that Liverpool have underachieved this season.
With Sadio Mane moving on and Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Thiago and Roberto Firmino suffering injuries, Liverpool haven’t been as threatening going forward as they have in previous campaigns.
Defeats against sides in the bottom half of the table, notably Bournemouth, Wolves, Leeds and Nottingham Forest, have made it hard for you to achieve Champions League football next season.
That said, the performance and result against Man United a month ago reminded everyone how good this Liverpool side is when everyone’s firing.
Do you think the Reds will be ‘back’ next season? Or has the cycle ended?
I believe with the addition of a few key signings in the summer, Jurgen Klopp will have the team fighting at the top of the table again.
The Reds look like they’re approaching a transition of needing to move on some of the old guard and supplementing the side with quality new additions.
If this next transfer window is planned and executed correctly, I have no doubt that Liverpool will be challenging for the title and in the cup competitions once more.
Looking ahead to Monday, where are the key battles?
The midfield battle will be key at Elland Road on Monday night.
The aforementioned Adams is injured for Leeds, meaning the Whites will be missing the defensive protection the American offers in the heart of the midfield.
With Thiago making his first appearance for some time against Arsenal last week, it will be interesting to see who Klopp opts for in the central area.
Finally, what’s your prediction?
Leeds will need to be so much better than they were against Crystal Palace last weekend if they want to take something from this one.
I’m going to go with a hopeful 1-1 draw.