Liverpool vs Leeds United
The Premier League is back and what a match we have to kick off at Anfield, where Leeds United visit for their first top-flight game since 2004.
It’s the Premier League champions against the Championship winners in a game both sets of fans will be desperate to see.
The Reds have just won their first Premier League title with an 18-point margin, while Leeds stormed the Championship and will be desperate to prove they belong in the Premier League.
But they couldn’t have a bigger test than this.
Anfield the fortress
If you can remember the last time Liverpool lost a Premier League game at Anfield you’re doing well, because it was 59 matches ago in April 2017.
It seems that the fearsome aura of Anfield is back with teams arriving on Merseyside almost expecting to lose. Only Burnley managed to earn a point here last season as the Reds won an imposing 25 from their last 26 games at home.
Jurgen Klopp is hoping that Jordan Henderson will be fit to play in the opener. His skipper is one of five Liverpool players to make the PFA Team of the Year.
Wing-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, and Sadio Mane also made the team.
It’s a stellar lineup but Liverpool can expect a tougher opener than last season when they met new boys Norwich City and dispatched them 4-1.
Bielsa means business
Leeds head coach Marco Bielsa will get the freedom of the city if he can inspire the Whites to a comfortable campaign, now they are back in the big time.
It’s unusual for the preseason Premier League 2020 betting odds not to feature all three promoted teams heavily in the relegation markets, but Leeds are backed for a lower mid-table position.
The Whites are happy on the road winning five of their last six away games, although admittedly not at Anfield!
Leeds have recruited well in the summer transfer window by noticeably signing Spain striker Rodrigo in a £29-M switch from Valencia, and he joins a talented squad.
Defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips made his debut for England in the 0-0 draw with Denmark on Wednesday. And while much of the game passed him by, that’s little surprise for a player who has never kicked a ball in the Premier League.
This is a classic fixture between two grand old sides of English football. There have been some superb clashes over the years and today, we’ve picked out three of our favourites.
Liverpool 1-1 Leeds United 1974
The Charity Shield back in 1974 was the glitzy curtain raiser to the English season as it is a celebration of football in a match between the league winner and the FA Cup winner.
So when champions Leeds rocked up to face FA Cup winners Liverpool, the world looked forward to an exhibition of football.
But no one was particularly surprised when the Wembley showcase turned into a bloodbath. Don Revie’s Leeds were known for their physical prowess, and with the likes of the rock-hard Tommy Smith in their ranks, Liverpool were no pushovers.
Leeds’ midfielder Jonny Giles was the first to land a punch with a smart right hook landed on Liverpool’s star Kevin Keegan, and when Leeds’ skipper Billy Bremner saw the chance to get involved, both he and Keegan were sent off.
Bill Shankley’s Reds won the Shield in a penalty shootout (6-5), but not many people remember that detail from one of the most brutal games witnessed at England’s national stadium.
Liverpool 3-1 Leeds United 2003/2004
There was no lack of football in this Premier League clash which was Gerard Houllier’s 200th match in charge of Liverpool.
Michael Owen opened the scoring for Liverpool with a superb volley before Leeds striker Alan Smith hit back with a clinical finish.
The game turned in Liverpool’s favour when a swinging free-kick from Danny Murphy was fumbled by Leeds keeper Paul Robinson and it rolled into the net, and then Anfield celebrated again when Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored his first ever goal for the Reds.
Liverpool 1-3 Leeds United 1998/1999
Liverpool thought they were on their way to a home win when Leeds keeper Nigel Martin upended Karl-Heinz Riedle in the penalty area and the prolific Robbie Fowler converted the spot kick.
But Leeds fought back to stun the Anfield faithful and it was a young Smith who fired a low fizzing drive into the net with virtually his first kick of the game in his Premier League debut.
Matters got worse for the Reds as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank scored two breakaway goals to give Leeds a famous away victory.
What the Leeds fans would give for a repeat of that score line, but could Liverpool vs Leeds really throw up an opening day shock?
If so, the opening Premier League 2020 news headlines will write themselves!
Well, we’ll know by Saturday night but we can be certain that even without a crowd, there’ll be no lack of passion.
It will be exciting to see Leeds United’s first game back and we invite you to tune in to SBOTOP as we cover their Premier League journey.
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