The Premier League is back and the pick of the opening day fixtures sees defending champions Liverpool take on newly-promoted Leeds United at Anfield.
In the blink of an eye the new English Premier League returns after just a couple of weeks’ hiatus and the game of the opening week comes from Anfield where defending champions Liverpool will be looking to get their title defence off to a winning start. Standing in their way however in week one is Marco Bielsa’s newly-promoted Leeds United who return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
It couldn’t be any tougher of a return facing the visitors in the game of the day which gets underway at 5.30PM BST and Marco Bielsa’s side look set for a tough afternoon against Jurgen Klopp’s red juggernaut who were imperious at home last season.
LIVERPOOL HOME FORM SET TO BE KEY AGAIN
Last season the Reds won all but one of their matches at Anfield, only dropping points when held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley; but given the title was all but sewn up the home side can be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas late on although they got back to winning ways beating Chelsea 5-3 in their last home game.
In their last twenty matches at Anfield, Klopp’s free-scoring side amassed 54 goals and conceded only 16 times. The Reds also scored at least three goals in nine of their home fixtures last campaign while they haven’t been beaten at Anfield in the Premier League for more than three years.
That represents a very tough assignment for Bielsa’s newly promoted side who romped to victory in the Championship last season.
Leeds won five of their last six away games in the Championship, but their away record over the past twenty matches has also seen them lose six games and share the spoils on four other occasions. Away from Elland Road they have struggled somewhat both to find the net and keep the opposition out, scoring 29 goals in their last 20 matches away while conceding 20 goals.
That said, Leeds managed to find the net with regularity throughout last campaign and while they will face a tough test here they pose a significant attacking threat that could trouble the Liverpool rearguard.
LEEDS AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY BACK IN PREMIER LEAGUE
It is hard to predict how Leeds will line up or their tactics going into the match with eccentric Marco Bielsa at the helm and the Italian coach doesn’t always follow convention. That genius saw his side romp to victory in the Championship with 93 points, well clear of the rest and with some key acquisitions already in place through the summer transfer window the visitors look set for a decent campaign back in the big-time where their main aim of course will be to stay up.
It will be an intriguing spectacle but it is hard to look past Liverpool’s formidable front-line who were ultra consistent last term and the Mane-Firmino-Salah spearhead look set to give Leeds’ backline a torrid evening.
That said, Leeds have some attacking potency of their own and found the net in 87 percent of matches played in the Championship last season. Given Liverpool looked a little shaky towards the end of last campaign – granted they possibly were going through some motions having all but secured the title – and Bielsa’s slick-passing side should carve out a couple of chances.
Both sides like to go forward so this should be an exciting match.
LIVERPOOL HAVE THE BEST RECORD AGAINST THE VISITORS
Leeds will have to overturn a stat that has seen Liverpool beat them in six of their last seven encounters, with their latest coming in the 2016/17 League Cup where the Reds ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield.
The last time Leeds managed a victory against Liverpool was in April 2001 when they beat the Reds 2-1 at Anfield. Over all encounters however through the years, it has been Liverpool who have triumphed 50% of the time with a near-equal split of the remainder between Leeds victories and draws.
SATURDAY SOCCER TIPS – BIG MATCH VERDICT
Liverpool can get their title defence off to a winning start against newly-promoted Leeds who return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
Marco Bielsa’s side are no slouches as their impressive Championship-winning campaign attests, but a trip to Anfield for their first match back in the big-time may come too soon and with the Liverpool spearhead in attack likely to be as strong as ever the visitors’ backline could be in for a busy evening.
Leeds do pose a threat of their own and Liverpool’s defence looked a little vulnerable towards the end of last campaign. That sloppiness may have been down to complacency having already secured the title, but Bielsa’s side can pose a threat although it may not be enough to stop the defending champions from collecting the three points.
Liverpool should win this by a couple of goals, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the visitors find the net.
Bet 1: Liverpool to win, both teams to score YES, over 3 match goals @ +333 (Bet365)
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