Two teams seeking to bounce back from demoralising midweek Premier League defeats will lock horns at Elland Road on Saturday, as Leeds United play host to Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool put six unanswered goals past the Whites in midweek, while Antonio Conte’s side could not unlock the door against Burnley in a 1-0 defeat.
There is no shame in coming out second best at the fortress that is Anfield, but the manner in which his side capitulated surely concerned Marcelo Bielsa, as the Leeds boss witnessed his side go down 6-0 to the title-chasing Merseysiders.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both struck braces for Liverpool on the day, while one of Joel Matip’s mazy forward runs finally ended in a goal and Virgil van Dijk scored the easiest header he will ever score to round off an emphatic Reds victory.
Bielsa admitted after the encounter that the threat of relegation is starting to worry him, as Leeds and their leaky defence now occupy 15th spot in the rankings – just three points above Burnley, who have experienced an upturn in fortunes – having played two games more.
The Whites’ tally of 56 goals conceded represents the worst defensive record in the Premier League this term – with 16 of those strikes being shipped in their last four games – and it is now three successive defeats for this confidence-depleted Leeds side.
Furthermore, three of Leeds’ most recent four Premier League games at Elland Road have ended in defeat as they endeavour to pull off a surprise result against Tottenham, but the visitors’ confidence also took a mammoth hit in midweek.
It has taken all of four months for the cracks to appear between Antonio Conte and Tottenham, with the ex-Chelsea and Inter Milan boss hinting that his stay might not be a long one after overseeing a 1-0 defeat to 18th-placed Burnley on Wednesday night.
With Tottenham largely struggling to test Nick Pope as Harry Kane rattled the woodwork, a resilient Burnley stood firm and earned their rewards as Ben Mee beat Cristian Romero in the air to head home the winner from Josh Brownhill’s pinpoint cross.
Conte cut an emotional figure after the defeat – one which leaves eighth-placed Spurs seven points off the Champions League places with two games in hand on Manchester United – and admitted that the club should make “an assessment” on his future.
It is extremely difficult to see Spurs cutting their losses on the Premier League and Serie A title-winner, even though he has now lost four of his last five in the top flight with Tottenham, and one can only begin to fear for Conte should his side fail to respond on Saturday.
Furthermore, Spurs have lost on their last two visits to Elland Road – going down 2-1 in the 2012-13 FA Cup before a 3-1 league defeat last term – but they did run out 2-1 winners over Bielsa’s side in North London earlier this season.
Leeds United Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
We say: Leeds United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Leeds cannot welcome Bamford and Phillips back to the team soon enough, but while their two key English stars remain absent, Spurs can give themselves a much-needed injection of confidence on Saturday.
Facing the league’s worst defence will be music to the ears of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who should help to relieve some of the pressure on Conte’s shoulders at Elland Road.