Leeds United host Liverpool at Elland Road on Monday night. Once one of the most prestigious fixtures in the English calendar when the sides were challenging one another for the title in the 1960s and 70s, very different priorities will be at play on Monday.
Leeds are looking for the points to lift them clear of the relegation zone, while Liverpool are hoping a win will spark a late push for an increasingly unlikely top-four finish.
Leeds United vs Liverpool: The Quick Hits
- Liverpool are overwhelming favourites with the Opta supercomputer for this game, given a 61% chance of victory, compared to 16% for Leeds.
- Leeds come into this game on the back of a 5-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace and with a meagre tally of just three clean sheets in their last 23 Premier League games.
- Although Liverpool are winless in four Premier League games, they are unbeaten in their last five league visits to Elland Road, winning 3-0 last season.
Neither Leeds nor Liverpool have enjoyed fruitful campaigns by their own standards, with the Whites starting each of their last 24 league games in the bottom half of the table after a strong start saw them win two of their first three games this season. Liverpool, meanwhile, are on their second four-match winless run Premier League of 2023 already.
In fact, it hasn’t been a good start to 2023 for either side.
Although Leeds have struggled so far this calendar year, winning just three of 14 league games, that’s only one fewer than Liverpool have managed (four). The Whites have shipped 25 Premier League goals in 2023, which is more than any other side coming into the weekend’s games. Ten of those have come during April, also the most of any team, while their two Premier League defeats this month have been by three or more goals (4-1 vs. Arsenal, 5-1 vs. Crystal Palace), more than in their first 27 games this season (one).
Leeds scored first in their match against Crystal Palace but then went on to lose by four clear goals, the first time that’s happened to them in a top-flight match since April 1957, losing 6-2 at Birmingham with the great John Charles scoring two that day.
Heavy defeats haven’t just been confined to west Yorkshire however, with Liverpool losing three league games by a three-goal margin in 2023 alone, making up 30% of those total Premier League defeats under manager Jürgen Klopp (three of 10).
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the Reds – they came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with table-topping Arsenal in their last game, only the third time in the league they’d recovered a deficit of two goals to avoid defeat under Jürgen Klopp (also 5-4 vs. Norwich City in 2016 and 3-3 vs. Brighton last October). It was also the first time a team had avoided defeat when trailing by two or more goals against a side top of the league since Brighton won 3-2 against Man City in May 2021, and the first time Liverpool had done so since January 1994 in a 3-3 draw with Man Utd. Arsenal had won their previous 50 league games when leading by a margin of two or more goals, so it was no mean feat to come back against them.
Liverpool could also feel themselves hard done by not to get all three points, recording comfortably their highest Premier League expected goals total of the season (3.96), which was also the most against Arsenal by a team this season. They were also the first team to exceed 20 shots in a game against the Gunners in 2022-23 (21) and their 19 shots from inside the box was only the second time their opponents had allowed more than 10 in a league game all season, and the most they’d faced in a Premier League on record (since 2003-04).
Going into the Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Leeds in October, Opta’s supercomputer had given Leeds a mere 6.2% chance of success. But the Whites produced one of the shocks of the season to win 2-1, with only three teams upsetting the Opta supercomputer odds more to win in a Premier League match this season.
It ended a 12-match winless run against Liverpool in all competitions for Leeds, with their surprise victory their first against them since April 2001, also at Anfield, when Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer were on the scoresheet.
This time around, it was Rodrigo and Crysencio Summerville doing the damage, with Summerville’s 89th-minute winner the latest winning goal on record by an away side at Anfield (88 minutes, 51 seconds) since his fellow Dutchman Robin van Persie scored in the 92nd minute for Arsenal back in March 2012. It was also Leeds’ sixth winning goal in the 89th minute or later since returning to the top-flight in 2020, with only Chelsea netting more in that time (seven).
It ended Liverpool’s 29-game unbeaten home Premier League run, their first defeat at Anfield since March 2021 and first in front of supporters since April 2017. They haven’t lost at home since then in the league, while only Real Madrid have beaten them at Anfield since Leeds, in a Champions League game in February. It was also the first and, so far, only time that Liverpool have lost at Anfield in the Premier League with Virgil van Dijk in the team, ending his incredible 70-match unbeaten home run with the Reds.
Going into the game at Anfield, pressure was building on Leeds manager Jesse Marsch, who had managed just six league wins in 23 games at that point and lost each of the previous four leading up to the visit to Liverpool. They turned the form table on its head and became only the second team in Premier League history to win against Liverpool at Anfield after having lost the previous four games, after Crystal Palace in May 2015.
With Marsch now gone, Javier Gracia will be looking to complete Leeds’ first league double over Liverpool since 2000-01, while the last team to beat Liverpool twice in a league season with a different manager each time was Crystal Palace in 2014-15 (Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew).
Liverpool visit Elland Road on the back of their worst winless run in all competitions under Jürgen Klopp, a five-game stretch that’s seen them draw two and lose three matches since hammering rivals Man Utd 7-0 in March. The Reds last endured a longer winless run in September 2015, the month before Klopp took over, going six without a win under Brendan Rodgers.
The Reds’ defensive record has been questioned this season, conceding seven more goals this season (55) than they did in the entirety of last season (48) across all competitions. Although they have kept eight clean sheets in 18 games in 2023, they’ve shipped at least two goals in eight games and have let in more goals (26) than they’ve scored (23) in all competitions.
Liverpool have picked up just 0.87 points-per-game away from home in the Premier League this season (13 in 15 games), their lowest in a season since 1992-93 (0.76) and are averaging less than a goal-per-game (14 goals in 15 games) in away games in a league season for the first time since 2009-10, when they scored 18 in 19 games.
Leeds appeared to be making improvements under Javi Gracia, with three wins in their first six league games under him (more than in their previous 20 league games). However, a 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace that saw them ship five goals in a home top-flight game for the first time since 1991 isn’t ideal preparation for facing Liverpool, who’ve been outscored by just four teams in the Premier League this season.
Leeds had seven shots on target in the first half against Crystal Palace, their most in the first half of a league game on record (2013-14 onwards), but then mustered just one effort at goal in a catastrophic second 45 minutes, their lowest total in the second half of a game all season.
Leeds United: Jack Harrison
Earlier this month, Jack Harrison put pen to paper on a new five-year deal to stay at Leeds until 2028.
Harrison has been in excellent form in 2023, scoring four goals and assisting six. His six assists in all competitions this calendar year are bettered by just one English player for a Premier League team (Jack Grealish: seven) and Harrison has scored three goals in his last five appearances. Over a longer period, Harrison has also continued to put up consistently excellent numbers in creating chances for his team-mates: since the start of the 2020-21 campaign, only four English players have created more chances in open play in the Premier League than Harrison (121). Of the nine Englishmen with 100+ open-play chances created in that time; he is the only one without an England cap.
Harrison is also a good luck charm when he finds the net – he’s scored in 30 games for Leeds and they’ve won 26 of those (87%). Of those other four games, he’s drawn three and lost just one… against Liverpool on the opening day of the 2020-21 campaign at Anfield.
Liverpool: Mohamed Salah
Although Mohamed Salah missed his second penalty in his last four appearances against Arsenal, he did manage to score in the game to register his 20th Premier League goal involvement, the sixth consecutive season he’s had 20+ goals and assists combined.
Salah is one of only four players to register 20+ goals and assists in six consecutive Premier League seasons, after Thierry Henry, Sergio Agüero and Harry Kane. Since the 2017-18 campaign, Salah has the most goals (131) and most goals and assists combined (184) of any player, with nine in his last nine appearances (six goals, three assists).
Salah also has a brilliant Premier League record against Leeds, with seven goals and an assist in four starts against them. No Liverpool player has more Premier League goals against Leeds than him (Robbie Fowler also has seven) while his seven goals against the Whites across the last three seasons are the second-most by a player against an opponent. The only player with more? Salah, against Manchester United (nine).
Leeds United vs Liverpool Prediction
Opta’s supercomputer gives Liverpool a 61% chance of beating Leeds on Monday, while Leeds are awarded a mere 16% chance of a win, although that is more than double they were given ahead of their 2-1 win in October (6.2%).
Leeds have a dreadful record against the Premier League’s ‘big six’ teams, losing 18 of 21 Premier League games against them since the start of last season (W2 D1), shipping an eye-watering 65 goals in those games.
Liverpool, however, have struggled this season against teams starting the day in the bottom half of the table, winning just seven of these 16 games (D4 L5) – last season, they didn’t drop a single point in those games, winning 20 out of 20. Away from home, they haven’t scored in any of their last four games against teams in the bottom half (D2 L2) and only won once all season, 3-1 at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
In the fight against the drop, Leeds are given a 16.4% chance of relegation, which is the fifth-highest figure ahead of Southampton, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and Everton. The Whites haven’t been relegated from any division since dropping out of the Championship in 2006-07 and will want to avoid another dramatic final day like last season, when they beat Brentford 2-1 to stay up.
Liverpool haven’t finished outside the top four in any of their full seasons under Jürgen Klopp but they’ve been given just a 6.4% chance of finishing in the Champions League places by Opta’s supercomputer. The Reds’ most likely position to finish is sixth, given a 35% chance, which would be their lowest position at season’s end since 2015-16, when they ended the campaign in eighth.