Leeds United 0
Liverpool 3 (Salah 20, Fabinho 50, Mane 90+2)
Well, there isn’t too much we need to say about this one I don’t think! Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and admit that the opposition were just the better side. This was one of those moments and it reinforced the view that there is still a huge gulf in class between teams like ourselves and the established big six sides. Manchester United showed us their class on day one and they’ve since added Ronaldo to their ranks while this was another master class by another team destined to play a big part in the title race this season.
I suppose we have to also note though that, yet again, our boys didn’t really show us the level of performance we saw last season; for some reason we’ve not yet got into our stride and haven’t really done so in any game this season for any prolonged period. Sure, it was difficult to shine today in the shadow of an excellent Liverpool display, but I still think individually we are better than we saw today and I don’t believe we can have deteriorated that much in the few months since that fabulous 11 game run at the end of the last campaign.
One Leeds player though did shine throughout the game today; Kalvin Phillips. For me Kalvin was the Man of the Match and put in a sublime performance that probably ensured our punishment wasn’t even harsher at the hands of the Reds. He was everywhere and it’s easy to understand why he was voted England’s player of the season recently.
The worrying fact though is that we have now produced results in three of our four games, worse, or certainly no better, than we did in the same games last season. Comparing our 2 point haul from these first four games, we garnered four from the same games during the last campaign; not disastrous certainly, but not something we’d want to replicate all season!
It’s probably also worth mentioning that we did have chances today, it wasn’t all one way traffic. We can only wonder what difference it might have made had Rodrigo stuck away what was a very good chance early in the game. Once again I was left scratching my head trying to work out exactly what we do with the talent that is Rodrigo as the way we are using him at the moment is patently not working to our advantage. It was no surprise that Tyler Roberts replaced him at half time and, once again, I felt Tyler actually gave us more than his expensive Spanish team mate. Luke Ayling had a decent opportunity at the back post too but could only knee the ball over the bar while Patrick Bamford had a similar chance to the one Salah put away but couldn’t match the Egyptian’s instinctive finish.
The less said about the Liverpool second goal the better; it harkened back to the set piece problems we were cursed with this time last season, while the third, in added time, was harsh on us and was more to do with them having one man more than we did at that stage.
The red card for Pascal is a mystery to me; I’ve watched it a few times now since getting home and it looks like an everyday challenge that, once in a while, inevitably results in an accidental injury. Referee Pawson saw nothing wrong with it at the time and played on and only stopped the game, rightly, when he saw the anguish being shown by Mo Salah. I don’t understand what then happened; if Pawson has then taken it upon himself to issue the red card solely because the Liverpool man suffered a serious injury then that has to be wrong. Surely if VAR considered he needed to change his mind, then Pawson is required to trot over to view the incident on the monitor isn’t he? I know Marcelo has said he wouldn’t appeal a referee decision but maybe this is one of those rare cases when the club needs to overrule him and get that appeal in sharpish!
So, hands up, Liverpool were the better side and, as Bielsa also told reporters, “it was a fair result”. But we’re better than this and, had we taken our chances, well, who knows. Liverpool had 30 attempts to our 9 but even so, we didn’t help ourselves.
We move on swiftly with the trip to St James Park on Friday night and Newcastle are a team we have to show we’re competitive with. To do that we need to find our individual best form this week; come away from the North East with another defeat and the alarm bells really would be sounding.
Leeds United Liverpool
Possession 44% 56%
Shots 9 30
On Target 4 9
Corners 2 11
Fouls Committed 9 8