In football, we very rarely see a game live up to the pre-match hype, but this feisty affair could well go down as the greatest opening day game played on British shores.
Premier League Champions vs. Championship Champions.
Klopp vs. Bielsa.
The Normal One vs. El Loco.
A truly magnificent game of football and possibly one of greatest adverts of the Premier League during a period in which its draw of famous atmospheres is non-existent.
As for the game, Liverpool won, and Leeds lost. No major shock there but context is everything in football and Leeds demand huge praise.
The Whites were the definition of fearless today and although the football world knew about Bielsa’s brilliance, no one could quite imagine how quick his side would be able to adapt to the demands of Premier League Football.
Was it Leeds’ courage and composure or Liverpool being sub-par? The sheer numbers the visitors attacked with is breathtaking for a newly promoted outfit and Leeds’ ability to return to their shape so quick in transition is unbelievably impressive.
Here is the Warm Down from Liverpool’s 4-3 victory over Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United in what was the first game in the Premier League for the Peacocks in 16-years.
The Salah Show
The man dubbed the ‘Egyptian King’ by the Anfield faithful was head and shoulders above the rest of the pack today and the winning penalty converted by Salah bagged him his third Premier League hat-trick of his career.
The match-ball earning performance also saw him become the first player to score a hat-trick on matchday one of a league season since John Aldridge bagged three goals against Charlton in 1988-89.
His movement and touch was a joy to behold and after missing out on the golden boot last season, Salah looked inspired as ever to win back the award that he previously won in the 17/18 & 18/19 season.
Mohamed Salah for Liverpool against Leeds:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2020
◉ Most touches (87)
◉ Most completed passes in final third (35)
◉ Most shots (9)
◉ Most take-ons completed (7)
◉ Most chances created (4)
◉ Most shots on target (3)
◉ Most goals (3)
Mind-blowing numbers. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/yOzsa3sidT
96 goals and 41 assists in 154 Liverpool games. Not bad for a one season wonder.
Since the Premier League’s return with no fans, the Reds have conceded 14 goals in 8 games and today’s three from Leeds proved to be the first time a promoted side had scored 3+ goals away at the reigning champions since Hull City lost 4-3 to Manchester United in November 2008.
Klopp, however, didn’t think the Reds ‘struggled’ like many had suggested.
He said: "I didn't see us struggling defensively, you just cannot defend their way 100% all the time. They used their situations. Second goal was a misunderstanding with Virg and Ali (Van Dijk & Alisson). Can happen. Won't see that much too often. Third we changed Hendo (Henderson) one minute before. We didn't close one gap."
When everything’s said and done, the Premier League champions conceded three goals on the opening day to a side that were in the Championship a few months back.
Van Dijk has been titled ‘Mr. Reliable’ for the Champions since his move from Southampton but his mistake leading to Bamford’s equaliser on the half-hour mark proved to be his third error leading to a goal since 2018/19.
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, no outfield player has made more errors leading to goals in the Premier League than Virgil van Dijk (3).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2020
Joe Gomez also looked shaky and raised the question, is he really a superior defender than Joel Matip?
The Germany-born centre-half came on for the last five minutes and proved to be the calming influence Liverpool needed on the night to see out the win.
He was an ever-present in the 18/19 season and started ahead of Gomez in the Reds’ Champions League Final triumph in Madrid, but an injury hit 19/20 saw Matip make only eight starts.
It may well have just been an ‘off-day’, but something didn’t quite feel right about the Reds’ defensive approach and they will have to improve tenfold by next Sunday otherwise they could well be on the end of quite the hiding from a new-look, attack-minded Chelsea.