Leeds United v Liverpool
Elland Road, Sunday, 12th September, kick off 4:30pm

by John Spillane

Sunday’s game brings together two sides whose opening three games have brought contrasting results. The home side in 15th without a win (D2, L1) face an opponent 10 places better off and yet to lose (W2, 1)

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Following Friday night’s decision to allow the Brazilian players to play this weekend; Alisson and Fabinho for the visitors, and Raphinha for Leeds will be available for selection. For Marcelo Bielsa’s side this is a boost as their Brazilian is the player who makes them tick. Recent signing Daniel James has the talent to improve the attacking element of the side, but he will need to add consistency to his performances. The burden of goal scoring is still with Patrick Bamford, who made his England debut last weekend against Andorra. For Leeds to progress to the next level they need more goals coming from the other areas, especially from the likes of Rodrigo and Jack Harrison. They have a desire to attack, which can be counterproductive against the higher ranked teams, as their 5-1 loss at Old Trafford in the season opener showed. A home 2-2 draw with Everton and a 1-1 at Burnley have followed. They have been slow starters, conceding first in all three games so far, and will need to be on their guard early on. Much will depend on the ability of Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips to limit space in and around the Leeds penalty area.

Liverpool’s last game before the international break saw them draw 1-1 at home to a Chelsea side, reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Reece James. This followed two expected wins (A) Norwich City 3-0 and (H) Burnley 2-0 in their opening fixtures. Diego Jota has stepped in for (the currently injury hit) Roberto Firmino and opened the scoring in both of those victories. Working alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (98 goal in 221 appearances) the trio form a partnership which would cause problems for any opposition. With Andy Robertson now restored to full fitness the threat to Leeds will come from a familiar area, on both sides of the field. Trent Alexander Arnold adds the attacking width on the right and the ability of both to get forward creates the space for Salah and Mane ahead of them. Jota operates centrally, and will try to work between the lines, before making late runs. Youngster Harvey Elliott has seen more game time in midfield and the return of Virgil Van Dijk seems to have made his defensive colleagues more confident.

Last season’s meeting between the two ended 1-1, with Diego Llorente hitting a late equalizer after Mane had opened the scoring. Liverpool’s last eight away games have seen them W7, D1, including the least four and it would be no surprise to see them continue that winning run

Suggested bet : Handicap / Liverpool -1 (13/8)

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