Leeds United and Liverpool will both be out to secure their fourth consecutive wins in the Premier League when the two historic English sides renew hostilities at Elland Road on Monday night.
The Whites secured a memorable 2-1 win at champions-elect Manchester City last time out, whereas Liverpool head into Monday’s game having just been eliminated from the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola may have been hailed as the “magical” one by Marcelo Bielsa before last Saturday’s battle at the Etihad, but it was 10-man Leeds who produced their own 90 minutes of wizardry to shock the runaway league leaders and follow in Manchester United’s footsteps by prevailing 2-1 on Man City’s turf.
The joy from Stuart Dallas’s first-half opener was short-lived as Liam Cooper was sent for an early bath just before the break, and not until the 76th minute did City manage to restore parity through Ferran Torres, but a determined Dallas raced through in second-half injury time to slot home and propel Leeds to their result of the season so far.
Bielsa has now witnessed his team come up trumps in a 2-1 scoreline three times in a row following previous triumphs versus Sheffield United and Fulham – a spate of successes which sees them sit comfortably in 10th spot before the weekend’s fixtures kick off – and ninth-placed Arsenal are only ahead on goal difference prior to their clash with Fulham.
The Whites have also lost just one of their last five at Elland Road, and another slice of history is on offer for Bielsa’s side this weekend as they could become just the second team in the Premier League to beat both the league leaders and reigning champions in consecutive matches – following in Everton’s footsteps from the 2009-10 season.
Leeds – who also boast identical tallies of 49 goals scored and conceded in league action, a testament to their unwavering commitment to attack – have not won four top-flight games on the trot for 20 years, and with Liverpool-linked Raphinha potentially sidelined for this game, equalling that feat from April 2001 may prove a bridge too far.
There was simply no breaking down the impenetrable wall of Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and Nacho at Anfield in midweek, as Liverpool’s wasteful attackers bowed out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate after a goalless draw with Real Madrid in the second leg of their quarter-final.
Another shot at continental glory has passed Jurgen Klopp by, and the German has previously played down his side’s chances of finishing in the top four, but nine points from their last three matches sees the reigning Premier League champions sit just three points adrift of the Champions League places with seven matches left to play.
From dominating the English footballing landscape to fighting for their right to play in Europe’s premier competition, an injury-hit Liverpool have experienced quite the fall from grace over the past year, but performances in the top flight are certainly improving, even if they did have to rely on a Trent Alexander-Arnold spectacular to get them over the line against Aston Villa.
Furthermore, the bulk of Liverpool’s troubles have come at Anfield this season, as the Reds travel to Elland Road having won five of their last six league games on the road – keeping clean sheets in their last three – and they have lost just two of their most recent 13 top-flight games on rival turf.
A Mohamed Salah hat-trick helped Liverpool over the line in a seven-goal thriller with Bielsa’s men earlier in the season, and Leeds’ most recent victory over the Reds at Elland Road was also by a 4-3 scoreline, during which Mark Viduka bagged all four in the 2000-01 season.
Leeds United Premier League form:
Liverpool Premier League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):