Liverpool start title defence against Championship winners Leeds
Liverpool to win 2-1
After many years of trying and failing, Leeds United are finally back in the big time after winning the Championship last season.
Overall, it’s unclear what to expect from them this year and it’s this intrigue that makes their first match against Liverpool so fascinating.
Liverpool won their first league title in 30 years last season and will want to make up for lost time by claiming back to back trophies.
In Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa, we have two of the league’s most entertaining managers, both on and off the pitch.
They settle for nothing less than energetic, attacking football from their teams and we should expect Leeds to travel to Anfield looking to make their mark against the champions.
Many predict that Liverpool will face a much closer challenge from Manchester City this season, especially as the Reds are yet to make any significant purchases in the transfer market.
They will be looking to get off to a flying start.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 2nd
Reasons to be cheerful:
Champions will want to continue their success into a new season
Outstanding record at home over past few years
Reasons to be fearful:
Yet to add to their squad with signings
Need to improve after losing Community Shield to Arsenal
Liverpool will be hoping to continue where they left off last season, but know they will have to work harder than ever to set new standards for teams hoping to close the gap.
Losing in last month’s Community Shield to Arsenal will not trouble manager Klopp too greatly, having gone on to win the league after losing the same match last year.
They will be expecting a far tougher season, however. Manchester City will have regrouped with the hunger to regain the trophy, while the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all strengthened.
The lack of new signings may concern Liverpool fans, though this may change before the transfer deadline next month. If they don’t, it’ll be two seasons since their last first-team purchases when goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Fabinho and Keita arrived. Minamino was signed in January though has so far failed to secure regular football.
They should still have too much for Leeds, however fired up the newcomers may be.
Star Man – Mo Salah
Close to call between Salah and his strike-partner Sadio Mane, the Egyptian is still the man Liverpool rely on most to contribute in front of goal
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 13th
Reasons to be cheerful
Played glorious attacking football to win the Championship
New £30m signing Rodrigo can add goals
Reasons to be fearful
Opponents are unbeaten in opening league fixtures for seven years
Promoted teams can often struggle with demands of Premier League
The only downside for Leeds right now is that there won’t be any of their fans inside Anfield to welcome them back to the Premier League after 16 years.
That said, Leeds are a team many are predicting to do relatively well this season.
Many promoted clubs often struggle to meet the demands of the Premier League, often changing their style to be harder to score against but losing their attacking threat.
With Marcelo Bielsa as their manager, there is no chance of that happening to Leeds. He is a coach respected by many in the game, including City’s Guardiola, and news that he has signed a new contract will be music to fans’ ears.
Having new signing Rodrigo to play alongside last year’s top scorer Bamford will be a help and although they will struggle against Liverpool this weekend, they should be fine this season.
Star Man – Patrick Bamford
Leeds’ top scorer last season will have even more pressure on him this season, though he does have previous Premier League experience with Derby, Middlesborough, Palace and Norwich.
Two attacking teams looking to set down a marker
Liverpool again relying on Mane and Salah for goals
Leeds could spring a surprise if they score first
The sensible bet here would be Liverpool, who have not lost at home in three-and-a-half years in the league and usually start the season strongly.
They will have big pressure on them to go again after last season’s victory, but only time will tell whether a lack of signings will hurt them.
Leeds will enjoy their first match back in the Premier League, whatever the result. They will entertain up and down the country and, aside from any big injuries, should be comfortably mid-table by the end of the season.
Liverpool should start strongly here.
Liverpool to win 2-1