Leeds vs Liverpool – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Monday 17th April 2023
As part of our midweek Premier League predictions, we take a look at Liverpool’s trip to Leeds. Liverpool are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team – they’re poor away from home. Can they start to change that? Read on with our Leeds vs Liverpool prediction.
Leeds v Liverpool Match Preview
There’s no doubt about it – Leeds United’s second-half collapse against a rejuvenated Crystal Palace was as shocking as it was calamitous in its nature. Leeds started as the brighter of the two sides but it gradually became apparent that they were unlikely to have things all their own way and thus it proved when Palace bagged an equaliser before halftime through defender Marc Guehi. From there, Palace ran riot, scoring 4 goals in 24 second-half minutes to take the South Londoners a further three points clear from the relegation zone, leaving Leeds hovering just two points above the drop zone.
As brutal as that defeat at Elland Road was, Leeds’ overall situation doesn’t appear to be as desperate as some of their relegation rivals. Firstly, the mere fact that they are picking up points at a steady rate – 7 in their last 5 matches compared with one point apiece for each of the three teams mired in the relegation zone (Nottingham Forest, Leicester and Southampton) is encouraging in itself. Secondly, Leeds do have a smattering of what we might term ‘winnable’ fixtures – Leicester at home, Bournemouth away, and West Ham away.
Liverpool’s situation, as it has been all season, is contradictory. While it’s certainly true that they’re in poor form – they’ve collected just two points from their last four Premier League fixtures – they played extremely well to force their way back into their last encounter against title-chasing Arsenal, who blew a two-goal lead and had to settle for a 2-2 draw. Another missed penalty from Mohammed Salah, who had clawed back a goal for the home side late on in the first half, probably deprived Liverpool of the victory they richly deserved.
In a way, that performance was emblematic of their issues this season. At home, they’re still a side who are capable of excellent performances, but away from home, they are a totally different team shorn of the cohesion and aggression off the ball that have been hallmarks of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure. As a result, they’ve often found their weaknesses to be ruthlessly exploited by ambitious teams looking to take advantage of tactical flaws. Three wins in 15 away Premier League matches shows that we’re not exaggerating the problem.
Therefore, Monday evening’s match marks a crucial watershed in Liverpool’s season. On the closest match to the Hillsborough tragedy in which 97 Liverpool fans lost their lives, their Premier League campaign and next season’s European football hang in the balance. The situation is difficult, but not irretrievable. Champions League football would appear to be beyond them, but a Europa League place could be for the taking – particularly if they start to win away from home. Fortunately for Klopp’s men, without being disrespectful to any club, they face West Ham, Leicester and Southampton in their final three away fixtures – all of them winnable.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Wober
Will Not Play: Dallas, Adams
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Bajcetic, Keita, Ramsay
Leeds vs Liverpool Lineups (Predicted)
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Firpo, Koch, Wober, Ayling; Roca, McKennie; Gnonto, Harrison, Sinsterra; Bamford
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Konate, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold; Fabinho, Jones, Henderson; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez
Leeds vs Liverpool Analysis
What Does That Second-Half Display Do to Leeds’ Self-Belief?
Ordinarily, we’re more inclined to discuss how both teams will match up, and how their contrasting styles could play out against each other. In this case, we can’t ignore the impact of Leeds losing 5-1 at home in a crucial fixture after being 1-0 up. Footballers aren’t robots, they are subject to changing levels of confidence and a display like that would no doubt have significantly damaged morale. Can they effectively write off their second-half display and pick themselves back up again?
Because otherwise, Leeds United’s home form has been reasonable this season, if not spectacular for a side in their predicament. The 5-1 reversal against Crystal Palace was their fifth home defeat this season from 15 matches, and they find themselves 15th in the home form table – they’re not particularly strong at home but not especially poor either. In fact, Javi Gracia’s men had picked up seven points from their previous three home fixtures.
Now normally, we wouldn’t be talking about a home match against Liverpool as an opportunity for a team to pick themselves up, but Liverpool’s away form is worse than Leeds’ home form. They’ve lost 8 times in 15 away Premier League matches this season, winning just three of them. Liverpool have very particular defensive weaknesses this season. Klopp’s machine has been so finely tuned, and the players subject to intense demands season in, season out, that the decline of certain players and a lack of replacements in central midfield has started to tell.
Can Liverpool Get the Balance Right?
Leeds have some talented, tricky players in the final third – Gnonto (who we expect to be recalled) against Alexander-Arnold on that left-hand channel is a crucial matchup, for reasons of positional lapses and Liverpool’s inability to cover forays from their advanced fullbacks. Skipper Virgil van Dijk, unfortunately, appears to have lost a step since his cruciate ligament injury a few years back. Fabinho has not generally been the same effective anchor in midfield as in seasons past, and Liverpool lack a driving presence in midfield – though they do have a couple of talented young midfielders in Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic.
These issues mean that generally speaking, Liverpool have to give up a lot at the back in order to get their attack going, and generally it’s unsustainable. Sometimes, it works out, and they’ve demolished their opposition on a few occasions which was more in keeping with the Liverpool sides of old – matches against Bournemouth, Rangers and, surprisingly, Manchester United demonstrate the side’s ceiling. Unfortunately, it’s often not that performance ceiling that dictates a team’s campaign, more often their bottom level – and Liverpool can be as poor as they are brilliant, even within the same game.
We have no doubt that Liverpool can cause a Leeds side with a leaky defence some significant problems – even away from home. Leeds struggle to defend against transitions from teams with enough ambition. They’ve conceded five to Palace, four to Arsenal, two to Wolves, two to Brighton, two to Fulham and two to Manchester United in recent fixtures. Contrast that with one against Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Everton – all sides who aren’t particularly dangerous playing a vertical progressive game.
Leeds might surprise a few people in how they approach this match. Liverpool have been vulnerable away from home this season, and Leeds are fortunate in that they have certain tools to exploit Liverpool’s well-documented defensive weaknesses. Though this is old-school footballing parlance, their coaching staff will almost certainly have demanded a ‘reaction’ to their shocking second-half collapse against Crystal Palace, so we expect to see extra aggression and a high tempo that Liverpool can find uncomfortable.
However, we expect that Liverpool will do more than enough in attack to create clear chances with regularity. This Leeds side is far from solid no matter which mentality i.e. positive, defensive they employ. We expect that Liverpool will emerge with a hard-fought victory from an entertaining match that will give both sides plenty of encouragement for the rest of the season.
Leeds 2-3 Liverpool
Leeds vs Liverpool Betting Tip – Liverpool Odds:
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