The opening day of the Premier League always promises goalmouth action. Nobody could have predicted the seven goals at Anfield, however, as Liverpool defeated Leeds United 4-3 to begin their title defence with a nervy victory. The game, billed as Bielsa ball vs the mentality monsters of Jurgen Klopp’s side, did not disappoint. And neither did Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool and Leeds Play Out 4-3 Thriller
The Most Entertaining of Starts
It took all of four first-half minutes for the champions to find the net. The early strike came from the spot following the debuting Robin Koch’s controversial handball.
Liverpool’s start couldn’t have been more perfect. The intensity was there; the press was relentless, and the front three looked eager to open their tallies for the season with one already doing so.
Yet, as we know by now, football doesn’t allow for perfection. No matter how dominant one team’s start to the game is, the other can endure one swift attack to equalise. And, in the 12th minute, that is what happened.
One swift long ball from Kalvin Phillips found the feet of Jack Harrison whose two touches took Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez out of the game to give himself the chance to finish. The strike was a fitting way to welcome Leeds back to the top flight.
In one movement, the best defence in last season’s Premier League was torn apart and exposed for all to see. As we know by now, however, poor defending soon became the theme of the game.
Mistakes from Both Liverpool and Leeds
In the 20th minute, it was Leeds’ turn to play the role of dodgy defence as they let Virgil Van Dijk of all people head home unchallenged. If any game could be an advert for Premier League football, this would be it. Attack vs attack; incapable defence vs incapable defence.
You know defending has become an afterthought, too, when even Van Dijk becomes mistake-prone. The Dutchman’s all too casual flick found the incoming Patrick Bamford who finished without fail. Suddenly, before anyone could even catch their breath, there had been four goals with two apiece.
And, if four goals weren’t enough to provide the entertainment, a fifth was soon found. This time from the set-piece, Mohamed Salah rocketed home to make it 3-2 with just 33 minutes played. Anfield had turned from fortress to goals show.
Liverpool Lucky to Lead at Halftime
Liverpool fans wanted the return of heavy metal football, and they certainly got it. As the halftime whistle sounded, perhaps the lesson was learned to be careful what you wish for as the defending champions, lucky to be ahead, went in to catch their breath.
Jurgen Klopp’s message at halftime would have undoubtedly been to swap the electric guitar and drums set for the well-timed and more constructed orchestra. It was time to put the heavy metal football away in hope of seeing out the victory.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Mentality Monsters
Yet, the drums continued to bash alongside the strum of the guitar in the second half. The intensity continued, as did the poor performances from each backline.
On this occasion, it took all of 20 minutes for a goal. We have become accustomed to the net bulging in Liverpool’s favour at Anfield. Again, though, it was Marcelo Bielsa’s side who were celebrating the equaliser via Mateusz Klich’s strike.
The Reds are often titled the mentality monsters, but here Leeds were, coming back from the seemingly dead position to equalise time and again. With each Liverpool goal, soon came a Leeds reply. Heading into the final moments of the game, one would think the drama was over, and the game would end as an entertaining draw.
Magical Mohamed Salah
Well, not if Mohamed Salah had anything to do with it. The Egyptian converted from the spot following a fail on Fabinho to hand his side the victory and himself the match ball. Not bad for a player meant to be a one-season wonder now scoring hattricks to kick off his fourth season, eh?
And that was that at Anfield. A day of dodgy defending alongside clinical attacking play. The story will be centred around the impressive Bielsa ball, but a certain Egyptian deserves a share of the back page.
Jurgen Klopp will know a better defensive performance will be needed next time out as his side look to complete the task of defending their title. For Marcelo Bielsa, he will look to take his famous stool to a game of victory next time out after an impressive first performance from his side against the champions.
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