Liverpool 1 (Salah 14)
Leeds United 2 (Rodrigo 4, Summerville 89)
29th October 2022, Premier League.
Oh my Gawd! That was some night! They do say that it’s better when you don’t expect it and it’s definitely better the longer you have to wait for it – like most things! I feel somewhat justified now in my stance recently that broadly suggested that we are a better team than our results had given us credit for. It was also something Jesse Marsch has been trying to get the fans to accept. It was just those daft defensive errors and missing chances that was killing us every week. Well, this game has levelled things up a bit.
Let’s not pretend that we played Liverpool off the park or anything like that; this was a hard fought victory against a faltering Liverpool (don't forget Forest beat them last week) but still, a Liverpool packed with quality players. For once though it was the opposition that had a moment of brain fade when, with the game hardly started, Gomez felt he could stab the ball back to his keeper from wide on the Liverpool right. That might have been ok had Alisson not slipped, no doubt surprised by the sight of the ball coming to him like that so early. Often in the past we’d have still failed to capitalise on such an error but, not for the first time this season, Rodrigo was there, alert and ready for any sniff of a chance and he was quick enough to prod the ball into the empty net! Oh my what a moment that was!
As so often with us, the joy didn’t last long and only ten minutes later the Reds were back on terms. It wasn’t exactly a defensive error this time but we certainly didn’t deal with a couple of cross balls very well and Mo Salah was more alert than we were at the back post to volley home unchallenged. If I was picky I’d say Meslier could have done better with the first cross that he merely palmed away but that would be harsh as he was clearly at full stretch. It was another example of how, if the opposition moves the ball quick enough we often struggle to deal with it.
There was another moment of panic in the first half when Liam Cooper slipped and stumbled to allow Nunez to get clear behind us but this time Meslier was top class and blocked the shot away. At the other end it was clear that the football gods were not totally onside with us as Brenden Aaronson saw his improvised volley crash against the crossbar from a superb curling cross from Rasmus Kristensen. What a goal that would have been! Harrison forced a decent block from Alisson too to ensure it remained all square at 1 – 1 at the break. We were all just beginning to wonder if this was the turning point in the season we’d been seeking for a couple of months!
In the second half, Meslier looked unbeatable with a string of saves that earned him most commentators’ award of a Man of the Match accolade. Liverpool were dominating possession and firing in plenty of shots and won 14 corners all told, but, crucially, Leeds remained pretty much error free and, actually, looked like we wanted this more than Liverpool. Our pressing was relentless.
Jesse didn’t wait long after the break before turning to Patrick Bamford who replaced Rodrigo. If that was an injury or a knock for Rodrigo then fair enough, but I thought it was the wrong move to, yet again, hook Rodrigo who has proved to be our most potent goal poacher so far this season. I have to say that I wasn’t impressed with Bamford for the forty minutes or so he got. His touch still looks woeful and another couple of chances were poorly and weakly executed. I think he needs more time away from the team and the pressure if you ask me.
Willy Gnonto was a different story though. I thought he was excellent in his first appearance, busy, strong, inventive and clever on the ball and he was involved in the crucial move that led to the Summerville winner. An interception by the excellent Tyler Adams (boy did we miss him last week?) sent the ball wide left to Willy and he cleverly nodded the ball over one defender before lashing the ball across despite the attentions of both Milner and Curtis Jones. The ball arrived with the hapless Paddy Bamford who, once again didn’t seem to have the necessary finesse to deal with it but it broke kindly for young Summerville and he capped a fine game with two sublime touches with his thigh and his boot before poking it past Alisson showing a wonderful awareness and coolness. He is starting to reveal what Jesse Marsch has been alluding to all season; he’s a very decent player.
So, let’s not get carried away, but this win, this three points, has put a totally different perspective on all things Leeds United. One thing I will add is that, once again, we have played superbly against a side willing to play football, just as we did against Chelsea and Arsenal. The referee too played a part in keeping the game flowing with only 12 fouls blown for in the whole game and only three against Leeds! I don’t deal in such record keeping, but I’m sure someone will confirm that conceding only three fouls in a whole game must be some sort of record. It helped us enormously in a) keeping the game going and b) not offering too many set-piece opportunities to the Reds.
Let’s revel in the joy this week, give the youngsters some support at Crewe on Tuesday night, and then gather at Church next weekend to hopefully witness some Cherries being devoured. This has to be a turning point, we must not let it slip away.
Liverpool Leeds U
Possession 69% 31%
Shots 22 14
On Target 10 6
Corners 14 5
Fouls 9 3