Just 46 days after being crowned English champions for the first time since 1990, Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool begin their defence against newly promoted Leeds United, who won the Championship, led by their maverick manager, Marcelo Bielsa.
Their last meeting in the EPL was almost 17 years ago when Liverpool beat Leeds 3-1 at Anfield.
Even though they do not have the trophies boasted by Liverpool, the all-whites of Leeds have three English league titles to their name, one FA Cup, and one League Cup. They are also finalists in the European Cup and 2001 semi-finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
One major feature of both teams is they are hardworking and very fit teams, which means the pace of the match should be high.
Bielsa is supposedly a football tactician, highly revered by many present-day managers like Pep Guardiola, for his revolutionary training techniques and ways in which to set up teams.
Can Leeds turn over the champions, who looked sluggish in their Community Shield encounter against Arsenal? Probably, but not likely.
In the pre-match press conference, Bielsa, speaking through an interpreter, revealed, “It is a very special game full of different scenarios to last season.”
He added that new signings–Robin Koch and Rodrigo Moreno are at a level to compete very well in the Premiership. He also added that Liverpool is a team with a consistent style of play and are one of the best teams in the world.
Meanwhile, Klopp views the new 2020/21 as an ‘opportunity’ and is excited by the humble culture at the club that has allowed everyone to focus on starting again.
“I look at my team and my staff and I see a group of people who are humble and ready. They embrace the culture of ‘let’s go again’,” Klopp said on Liverpool’s official website.
“Everything is possible over the course of the next 38 Premier League matches, plus games in the domestic cups and Europe. Nothing will be given to us and we start with no advantage or head start.
“Everyone is on the start line in exactly the same position. This suits us fine, perfect in fact. There is no pole position because of previous achievements. Again, perfect, this is ideal for our culture and our mentality.”
Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson, injured towards the end of the season, is back in training and could be afforded some minutes on Saturday but Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is a long-term injury absence.
Last season, Liverpool started the season against a newly promoted side, Norwich, and won 4-1 and they never looked back. Klopp will hope for such an opening-day statement, but Leeds should provide a much stiffer opposition.
Current Form: Liverpool [W-D-D-W]; Leeds [W-W-W-W]
Head to head
29/11/16 LEC Liverpool 2 – 0 Leeds United
22/09/09 LEC Leeds United 0 – 1 Liverpool
29/02/04 PRL Leeds United 2 – 2 Liverpool
25/10/03 PRL Liverpool 3 – 1 Leeds United
23/03/03 PRL Liverpool 3 – 1 Leeds United