Preview: Liverpool vs. Leeds United

Buoyed by confirming their place in the Champions League knockout stages, Liverpool seek a return to winning ways in the Premier League when Leeds United visit Anfield on Saturday evening.

The Reds ran out 3-0 victors over Ajax to confirm a top-two finish in Group A on Wednesday, while Jesse Marsch’s men lost 3-2 to Fulham last time out.

Progression into the last-16 of the Champions League will not be taken for granted, according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side overcame a slow start to hit three past Ajax at their Amsterdam headquarters without reply.

Mohamed Salah beat the onrushing Remko Pasveer, Darwin Nunez made up for an open-goal miss with a well-taken header, and Harvey Elliott fired home from a tight angle to take the pressure off next week’s final group match with an irrepressible Napoli.

Victory in Europe came after the Reds were stung by ex-Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi in a 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest, which leaves Klopp’s side in eighth place in the table ahead of the weekend, 12 points behind leaders Arsenal and five adrift of the top four, albeit with a game in hand over Newcastle United.

Nevertheless, a record of four wins from their last five games represents the best spell of form that an inconsistent and injury-hit Liverpool side have enjoyed all season, and conceding just two goals in their last 450 minutes of football has been a welcome statistic as well.

Furthermore, Klopp’s men are yet to taste defeat at Anfield this season – winning six of their last seven and keeping three straight clean sheets in their last three – and they could stretch their home Premier League unbeaten run to a stellar 30 matches here.

Hearing the fans chant the name of your predecessor could not have been easy for Whites manager Jesse Marsch, as a chorus of support for Marcelo Bielsa bellowed out from the Elland Road stands after a painful 3-2 defeat to Fulham piled the pressure on the American’s shoulders.

Rodrigo broke the deadlock on the 20-minute mark, but Willian, Bobby Reid and Aleksandar Mitrovic turned the game on its head for the Cottagers, who comfortably rode out the win despite Crysencio Summerville’s stoppage-time consolation for the Whites.

If Leeds were unfortunate to lose to league leaders Arsenal, there has been nothing questionable about their recent losses to Leicester City or Fulham, and it is now four defeats in a row for Marsch’s men as they languish in 18th in the table – only off the bottom on goal difference.

Not since the third gameweek of the season against Chelsea have Leeds fans witnessed their side win a top-flight match – drawing twice and losing on six occasions since then – and Marsch’s men travel to Merseyside boasting the joint-worst away record in the 2022-23 Premier League. Only Wolverhampton Wanderers have also picked up just one point on the road, but Marsch remains defiantly in his position as he bids to turn Leeds’ fortunes around.

Any hopes of kickstarting a revival this weekend are seemingly slim to none, as Liverpool did the double over Leeds last term by an aggregate score of 9-0 – including a 6-0 win at Anfield in February – and the Whites are now winless in 12 against the Reds since Lee Bowyer and Rio Ferdinand scored in a 2-1 win in April 2001.

Liverpool Premier League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Leeds United Premier League form:

We say: Liverpool 3-0 Leeds United
Asserting their dominance in the Premier League has not been as easy as it has been in Europe recently for Liverpool, but they are unlikely to come under much duress against Marsch’s leaky and injury-hit crop.

Klopp could very well choose to go with a stronger lineup here before resting players against Napoli with Champions League qualification already sealed, and travelling Whites fans should prepare for another painful afternoon on Merseyside.

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