Leeds United to ask Liverpool new Mohamed Salah question but must find Ben White solution


The 2020/21 Premier League fixture list has been officially announced, with Liverpool set to start their home title defense against Leeds United.Marcelo Bielsa’s outfit got automatic promotion last season, allowing the Whites to return to England’s top flight after a 16-year absence.

They dominated the league, while the Reds dominated the Premier League, but what can Jurgen Klopp expect from Bielsa’s side on Matchday 1? Let’s take a look at what they offered on the pitch last year to sum up Liverpool’s opponents.

Leeds won the championship by 10 points last season, scoring the second most goals while conceding the least on the defensive side of the game.

Bielsa’s team are trained by experts, and this can be captured by the numbers below the surface.

Expected Goals (xGs) – which tend to provide an accurate summary of whether a team deserved fewer or more goals largely depending on where the shots were taken – suggested Leeds had the best attack.

xG – above all – is a performance indicator, Leeds are expected to score a total of around 83 goals. They actually only have 77, which means they have underperformed by about six goals when it comes to completing the shooting opportunities they generated.

Their below-average ability to convert plans has been a recurring issue since Bielsa’s appointment in 2018.

Leeds’ high xG stemmed from their ability to generate shots. They have tried to find the net at least 50 times more than any other side, averaging around 14.5 efforts per game over the campaign.

In defense, the theme continued. Bielsa’s men boasted the best record, conceding just 35 goals, and they also had the lowest xG Against.

They have faced at least 47 fewer shots than any other side, their intense pressure approach being quite similar to Liverpool’s in the early years under Klopp. The Whites hunt in packs and close relentlessly until possession is regained.

Of course, during the past season, Leeds’ defense was bolstered by loan defender Ben White. It was reported that three offers had been turned down to make the move permanent and that an alternative solution might need to be found if he stayed in Brighton this summer.

Liverpool 2020/21 Premier League matches

Once the numbers in question are coupled with their share of overall possession – averaging 62.4% – it becomes quite apparent that Bielsa’s side have consistently dominated proceedings.

However, whether this can continue in the Premier League is another story. Leeds won’t be able to control their opponents as comfortably as they used to be, especially when it comes to making the trip to Anfield.

Mohamed Salah will be asked to break through what has been a stubborn defense, but the way they usually organize could give him the edge.

A very urgent approach requires a high defensive line, which could be problematic for Leeds given the pace and threat of Salah and Sadio Mane behind if the Reds manage to play through their press.

How will Leeds cope with the quality and overwhelming strength of Liverpool? Will they try to play the same or adjust in order to get a positive result? We’ll have to wait and see, but if the authentic Leeds version of Bielsa appears on September 12, the new campaign could get off to a good start.

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