Leeds United grabbed a shock 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. The three points stemmed the rot of eight games without a win for American manager Jesse Marsch. Plus, it was Leeds’s first victory over the Reds in 21 years.
Crysencio Summerville scored in the 89th minute on the eve of his 21st birthday. His goal, his second of the current campaign, eased some pressure on the traveling side.
Winless since August, and following a 3-2 loss to Fulham the previous weekend, Leeds dragged themselves into the relegation zone. The alarm bells started ringing with fans asking for ownership to fire the American. Chants of Marcelo Bielsa rang around the King Power Stadium following Leeds’s defeat to Leicester two weeks back. The away fans singing hymns of praise for their beloved former Argentine manager.
Yet, Marsch claimed the board unified behind him following the win over Liverpool. The three points could be the launchpad for a turnaround of fortunes for his side.
Poor form extends beyond this campaign
Leeds dodged relegation in May, however, find themselves in a more precarious position compared to this time last season. Marsch had his way on summer recruitment. However, the players failed to produce results on the pitch since the new season. The lone exception was the 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea in late August.
Patrick Bamford looks a shadow of his former self, goalless this season. Meanwhile, Leeds’s most gifted forward, Raphinha, departed in the summer to Barcelona. Rodrigo Moreno has only shown his quality in bits and parts. Thus, Leeds lacked goals up front from the strike force.
Summerville has been a revelation in the last couple of weeks. He looks set to claim his spot in the starting XI in the next couple games. With Luis Sinisterra inured, the Dutch winger got only his second start of the season. Before then, he made six substitute appearances in the current campaign. The 21-year-old followed up his consolation goal against Fulham with a finely taken smash and grab winner at Anfield.
Tyler Adams has been Leeds’ standout performer this season. He shined in a tough task of causing fits for Fabinho and Thiago in Liverpool’s midfield. Jack Harrison and Brenden Aaronson also had impressive displays. Yet, their outputs this season are inconsistent. They both must complement Adams if Leeds can build off this win.
Defensively too, the Whites struggled. Marsch’s men conceded 19 goals this season with a total goal differential of -4. Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper and Robin Koch have not been up to the mark this season. At the same time, Luke Ayling has been anonymous in several games in the right back position.
Goalkeeper Illan Meslier had an outstanding performance on Saturday. He kept that vaunted Liverpool attack at bay multiple times. He silenced any confusion in the back line, which did persist at Anfield.
Rasmus Kristensen, the new summer signing from Red Bull Salzburg, however, produced his best display in a Leeds shirt. The Austrian right back provided a brilliant cross in the first half for Aaronson. The American hit the underside of the bar, unfortunately for Leeds. However, Kristensen shined against Mohamed Salah, thwarting a particularly pivotal attack by the Egyptian. A goal for Liverpool at that stage and the result could have been different.
Under Bielsa, Leeds would pragmatically build out from the back. One of the central defensive midfielders slots back to get the ball. Then, the wing backs push high to join the attack. This season, however, Leeds lacks cohesion between the defense and the midfield. The opposition have taken advantage of the space left back.
Marsch hopes that Leeds United can build on the Liverpool win as they travel to Bournemouth next weekend.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
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