Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United are set to clash in the Premier League on Monday as both teams look to finish the season on a high note. The Reds will be eager to earn a spot in next year’s Champions League with a top-four finish, while the Whites will be looking to take down another top-flight club after their stellar 2-1 victory over Manchester City last week.
Here’s our preview of Monday’s fixture between Leeds United and Liverpool:
Liverpool’s fall from being one of the most dominant clubs on the planet to getting eliminated from the Champions League last week reflects the story of their season so far. But despite the shocking defeat to Real Madrid, Liverpool have been on an upward trajectory in the Premier League, with nine points from three consecutive wins. Even though there is no chance of them picking up any trophies this season, they are within striking distance of finishing in the top four. A win on Monday would take them to the fourth spot in the table along with West Ham.
With their European campaign coming to a halt, Jurgen Klopp is likely to field a full-strength squad for the remainder of the season. Fabinho’s return from injury has undoubtedly improved the quality of Liverpool’s defence, and he is likely to play a key role in creating an offensive platform against Leeds on Monday. Klopp will hope Mohamed Salah will deliver a repeat performance of his hat-trick against Leeds the last time the two teams clashed against each other.
The Reds were without Curtis Jones for last weekend’s win over Aston Villa and against Real Madrid, and his availability for Monday’s fixture is doubtful. Thiago Alcantara started on the bench against Real Madrid but could well come into the starting XI, while Diogo Jota might find his way back into the team after Klopp’s Naby Keita experiment failed to deliver. Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Gomez remain on the sidelines with injuries.
Marcelo Bielsa and his men showed the world why they are one of the most exciting teams to watch when they put on a 10-man masterclass in their 2-1 win over Manchester City. The victory against Pep Guardiola’s men comes on top of back-to-back victories over Fulham and Sheffield United, taking Bielsa’s men to the tenth spot in the table, level on points with Arsenal. The Whites have made Elland Road their fortress, losing just one of their last five outings at their home ground.
Leeds will be without skipper Liam Cooper, who will be serving a three-match suspension after being given a straight red card in the match against Manchester City. Robin Koch is the most likely replacement in his place. Raphinha is doubtful after sustaining an injury but might make it just in time to face the Reds. Adam Forshaw featured for Leeds United under-23 clash against Aston Villa and is likely to return to the field on Monday.
Reports in Argentina claim Marcelo Bielsa is close to agreeing on a new two-year deal with Leeds, but Bielsa has denied that there is any truth behind those claims. Nevertheless, he would be keen to focus on the games ahead.
HEAD TO HEAD
The historical head to head is overwhelmingly in favour of the Reds, who have emerged victorious on 60 out of 118 encounters so far. The Whites have won 28 fixtures, while 30 ended in a draw. Liverpool have been undefeated for 10 matches in a row against Leeds, their last defeat was all the way back in 2001 in the Premier League.
But Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds have closed the gap between the teams. Liverpool won the reverse fixture 4-3 earlier this season, but not without being made to work for it. Leeds scored three fluid goals, easily penetrating Liverpool’s defences, while Liverpool had to be content with punishing Leeds’ mistakes – two from penalties, one from a corner and one from a free-kick. Clearly, the match could have gone either way had Leeds been a little more careful.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Leeds United’s attacking style has brought a lot of uncertainty to the Premier League, making them a delight to watch. They have both scored and conceded 49 goals, levelling just three games along the way. Last week’s performance against Manchester City showed the skill and talent that Leeds possess – and they would like to build on that victory by pulling off another major upset. But Jurgen Klopp’s men are on a mission to claim a spot in the top four, and with the return to form of Mo Salah and Fabinho, they will surely push Leeds to their limits.
Expect Liverpool to edge out a marginal victory with lots of goals from either side.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson, Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jota, Salah, Firmino.
Leeds Predicted XI: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Koch, Alioski, Phillips; Costa, Dallas, Roberts, Harrison, Bamford.
When: Monday, 20 April 2021, 12:30 AM IST
Where: Elland Road
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.