Chelsea have spent more than £200 million on new recruits in a summer of Stamford Bridge rebuilding, but Klopp insisted Liverpool were different from “clubs owned by countries and oligarchs.”
Blues manager Lampard believes Klopp was as much defending Liverpool’s lack of summer signings as overlooking the Reds’ previous recruitment drives that have propelled the Anfield club back to the top.
“I was less annoyed with it, I found it more, slightly amusing, I would say,” said Lampard.
“Because I think when you talk about the owners of clubs, I don’t think it matters what line of business they come from, we’re talking about some very wealthy owners of clubs in the Premier League.
“I think with Liverpool’s story—and I referenced it a lot last year, Liverpool’s story—it’s a fantastic story of a club over four-and-a-half, five years that Jurgen Klopp’s been there that have managed to get recruitment right to a really high level.
“And the reality is probably, other than maybe Leicester, which is an incredible story, most clubs that win the Premier League in the modern day have recruited well and recruited at a high level money-wise.
“So Liverpool have done it, and they’ve done it over a period of time. What we’ve done is come off the back of a ban, probably tried to address the situation ourselves to help improve us.
“So I think it’s par for the course, and I think we all know that there’s no point in doing the maths too much because I think we know that Liverpool have spent at a high level, we know they have an incredible coach, we know they have incredible players.
“And the really smart thing Liverpool have done I think is believe in their coach, believe in their system for a number of years.
“So it’s a great story, but it’s story that has seen money spent on players. And this summer we’ve spent money on players, and now the hard work has to be done.”
Lampard has admitted he expects Chelsea’s other rivals to follow Klopp’s lead in criticising the west Londoners’ free-spending summer, but also conceded that is all part of the Premier League battleground.
Asked if Chelsea have to accept their transfer business will draw attention from their rivals, Lampard continued: “Yeah and those are the rules because I would maybe reference it elsewhere.
“I probably mentioned the transfer ban quite a lot last year, and maybe I felt that was some of the reason we were 30 points behind the top two teams. And when Jose Mourinho might mention it, he maybe wouldn’t have done when he was at Manchester United. These are the rules.
“Sometimes if you have the opportunity to invest at a club, managers at a top club, you try to do it as well as you can.
“I feel we’ve done it this summer with a view on bringing in young players of high talent, I believe very high talent, of course with the exception of Thiago Silva and his age. But to try to improve the club, and that’s part of our plan.
“And my job is to work with that, and my job is not to get too caught up in the comments of others. Because a lot of managers who work at clubs at this level will be spending money.
“And we’ll be judged on how well we spend the money, how well we coach the players we bring in, and we’ll be judged by the results we get.”
Seven weeks between signing off from the longest season in history to the beginning of the latest starting one ever. A condensed ‘summer’ where much hand-wringing over a lack of transfer activity went on.
Fears and anxieties have been as prevalent as joy being taken in Liverpool being the team everyone will be setting out to topple.
If you didn’t know before, this is what it feels like to be the reigning champions.Challenges and stresses
It took 30 years to win the league; it has been 30 years since we last set sail on a new campaign as defending champions. The challenges and the stresses of carrying what is both a blessing and a burden are utterly unique.
Liverpool are now the benchmark. They are the team to chase, the team to emulate, the team to succeed, if anybody is good enough.
Within this, the pressures are intensified – some of which are self-inflicted.
Timo Werner was fawned over only to end up in a Chelsea shirt and from that moment a chip grew on the collective shoulder of a sizeable section of the Liverpool supporter base, or at least the ones that live within the unremitting echo chamber of Twitter.
Whether he eventually comes or not, and he would be a fine addition to Jurgen Klopp’s squad, the less said about the resultant fixation with Thiago, the better. Nothing good can come from torturing yourself with hypotheticals and the most important players are the ones that are employed by Liverpool today.
In this respect, until matters change, Marco Grujic and Harry Wilson are currently more important than Thiago is.Don’t worry, be happy
I’m not going to tell you not to worry about the lack of significant reinforcements going into the new season, just that the transfer window doesn’t close on a poker-faced Liverpool for another four weeks and even if it closes without new arrivals, the players who made Liverpool champions last season are more than good enough to repeat the trick this time around.
If Liverpool don’t win number 20 next May (further pandemic delays might take this to July or August again), it won’t be down to the composition of the squad. It will instead be down to the heavy weight that comes with being the reigning champions.
Unless you enjoy the sort of domestic hegemony that Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich possess, retaining league titles is a fraught business. Despite their gold cheque book, Manchester City have only successfully retained a Premier League title once and that was by the skin of their teeth.
The second successive title is one that is won in the mind as much as it is won on the pitch. Your rivals are out to get you, but so are your own doubts and insecurities.
The first hurdle was cleared; I’d happily take another 37 4-3’s… Ahem. Leeds United were always going to be a tough assignment on the opening day.Heavy metal football vs. Bielsaball
Marcelo Bielsa is one of football’s greatest innovators, a thinker that Klopp and Pep Guardiola will view as a kindred spirit. The Argentinean elder will have been visualising this game ever since he rolled into Elland Road.
Belief installed in his players, throw in the stereotypical opening day enthusiasm that runs through all newly-promoted teams and Leeds were both an alluring and problematic opponent.
Unwilling to obediently lay down and let us scratch their tummy, three times they punched back when falling behind. They will attack this season with their own brand of ferocity, but defending might prove difficult.
Apart from the games in which we face them, I hope they prosper and grow in the season ahead.
Liverpool vs. Leeds has always been a fixture with a certain ring to it, one that was massive throughout the Bill Shankly and Don Revie eras, one that was re-energised during the 1990s and the early exchanges of the 21st century.
I’d have loved to have been at this one.
Mohamed Salah, sporting a very sharp new haircut, was in devastating form. Clinical in his dispatching of penalties at each end of the pitch and game, his second goal was thundered home ruthlessly.
Do we appreciate him as much as we should?
It was a question that was floated widely on Saturday. The answer to that is both yes and no. Salah is a phenomenon, nothing more, nothing less, the creator of football hypnotism, but because he plays within a team of collective talents he must share the adulation.
Against Leeds, while Salah excelled, others laboured. The forceful nature in which Bielsa’s team fought back was combined with drowsiness in the Liverpool defence. Virgil van Dijk powered in a header for 2-1, yet gifted Patrick Bamford the very next goal.
It lent the game an air of ‘next goal wins’. At 3-3, a freekick whistled past Alisson’s right-hand post before we were gifted our second penalty. Lessons learned and a call for focus before we head to Stamford Bridge next weekend, hopefully.A statement of intent
And Liverpool can come away from west London with three points next Sunday which would act as a bold statement of intent, as despite their summer of strengthening, Frank Lampard is still Chelsea’s manager.
Klopp can outmanoeuvre him if the errors of Saturday aren’t repeated.
The defence of our Premier League title is up and running.
It was the Mo Salah show at Anfield on Saturday night, with Liverpool’s No. 11 netting an all-important hat-trick to send the Reds on their way in 2020/21.
Salah was the only member of the front three not to find the net in pre-season, but he wasted little time when it mattered the most as his prolific career in red continued.
The 28-year-old found the net twice from the spot at both ends of the field, with a rifled strike into the top corner sandwiched in between, goals, in addition to Virgil van Dijk‘s header, which toppled Leeds in a wild 4-3 win.
It was a display which saw the Egyptian at the top of his game, one which continued to see records toppled in his wake and incredible milestones reached.
And here are four of the best from his night at Anfield on the opening day.A Good Omen
Liverpool’s front three are not labelled prolific for no reason and Salah is an integral member, when he is firing so are Jurgen Klopp‘s men.
And his name on the scoresheet in the Premier League bodes well for Liverpool for more reason than one, as it not only adds to his personal tally but it also all but guarantees victory.
Incredibly, Liverpool have won the last 35 topflight games in which Salah has scored, according to Opta, a run which dates back to his goal against Brighton in the final game of the 2017/18 season.
It is a new record in the Premier League, with Salah’s streak overtaking Wayne Rooney’s record of 34 consecutive wins when scoring which was set from September 2008 to February 2011.
And here’s to continuing that streak at Chelsea next time out!First Since Aldridge
By netting from the penalty spot at the death, Salah did not only win the game for Liverpool but also became the first Red to score a hat-trick on the first day of a league season since 1988/89.
The last man to achieve the feat was John Aldridge against Charlton, a campaign he finished with 31 goals across all competitions.
Almost two years between taking the match ball home, but you wouldn’t bet against him notching another before the season is out.
Moreover, it was the club’s 40th hat-trick in the Premier League, a tally bettered by no other side in the competition.Man for the Opener
Cometh the season opener, cometh Mo Salah.
And by safely dispatching a penalty early in the piece against Leeds, he did just that; becoming the first-ever Liverpool player to score on the opening day of the league for four consecutive seasons.
4 – Mohamed Salah is the first ever @LFC player to score on the opening day of four consecutive league seasons; he's only the second to do so in the @premierleague for any club, after Teddy Sheringham (1992-93 to 1995-96). Fab. pic.twitter.com/vhX99BEQVv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 12, 2020
Talk about starting as you mean to go on.Home Comforts
The Egyptian King has been a revelation since joining Liverpool in the summer of 2017, netting a whopping 97 goals in 154 appearances.
And more than half of those have arrived at Anfield in the Premier League.
His three-goal return against Leeds saw him take his tally to 50 goals in the space of just 63 home league appearances – a return which includes two strikes during his time with Chelsea.
It is a stunning return and one which sees him placed behind only Alan Shearer in reaching half a century of home goals in the Premier League in the shortest time frame, with the former Newcastle man netting 50 in 47 appearances – as per Opta.
He pipped former Liverpool man Robbie Fowler in the all-time list (50 in 64), in addition to Les Ferdinand and Sergio Aguero, who both hit the milestone in 65 appearances.
Do we appreciate Salah enough?
A goal inside the first minute to Jake Cain was enough to secure the first win of the new season for Liverpool’s Under-23s against Everton.Liverpool U23s 1-0 Everton U23s
Premier League 2, Kirkby
September 13, 2020
Goal: Cain 1′
With the pandemic having forced a premature end to the 2019/20 season, the mini Merseyside derby for the Under-23s signalled their first competitive fixture in 174 days and their first under the tutelage of Barry Lewtas.
Lewtas aptly described the occasion as “a baptism of fire,” with any contest against the local rivals a fiercely fought one, and his hopes to “start the season with a bang” needn’t long to come to fruition.
The starting XI included seven young Reds with a senior Liverpool appearance to their name, with Ben Woodburn captaining the side amid reports expecting him to join Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam on a season-long loan.
Caoimhin Kelleher, Liam Millar, Leighton Clarkson, Jack Bearne, Luis Longstaff and Jake Cain all added experience into the side, with the latter kickstarting his season in style with less than a minute on the clock.
The 19-year-old was the benefactor of the young Reds’ exuberant start, calmly dispatching his effort into the bottom corner of the net after Liverpool flooded the box in the first minute.
Longstaff and Bearne both caught the eye with their pressure acts from the front, helping to instigate moves into the Everton box alongside the likes of Clarkson, Cain and Woodburn.
And mid-way through the first 45, they looked to have been rewarded for their efforts after Millar flicked a pass back into the path of Longstaff who found the net – only for an offside flag to be belatedly raised.
But there was also a job to do in defence, to which Kelleher stood up to impressively having brilliantly denied both Ellis Simms and Nathan Broadhead in quick succession from close range, leaving Everton bemused by how they didn’t score.
Half time: Liverpool U23s 1-0 Everton U23s
The Blues did, however, start the second on the front foot forcing Liverpool to play out the early stages in their own half.
A chance to take the wind out of their sales before the hour mark was agonisingly missed by Rhys Williams, with the young centre-back’s heavy touch from inside the six-yard box ensuring he could not replicate Virgil van Dijk‘s conversion against Leeds.
As the clock ticked closer to the 90-minute mark, the young Reds started to see mistakes creep into their play, gifting the Blues the ball and forcing Kelleher into making a host of brilliant match-saving blocks.
With Curtis Jones watching on at the Academy, Liverpool held on amid mounting pressure to emerge as victors in the mini Merseyside derby and register the first points of their Premier League 2 campaign.
TIA Man of the Match: Caoimhin Kelleher
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Bradley, Williams, Savage, Clayton; Clarkson, Bearne (Beck 80′), Woodburn (Dixon-Bonner 74′); Cain, Millar, Longstaff (O’Rourke 89′)
Subs not used: Jaros, Sharif
Next Match: Derby (A) – Premier League 2 – Friday, September 18, 7pm (BST)
It was a “tough” opening day for Liverpool as they edged a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, with Mohamed Salah the match-winner as the champions started their defence.
It’s not an opening day clash which will be forgotten any time soon as the Reds reacquainted themselves with a flair for the dramatics as the newly-promoted Leeds rolled into town.
There was hardly time to breathe in the opening 45 minutes as five goals found the back of the net in what was a display pitting one error-ridden defensive performance against another.
A handball in the box paved the way for Salah’s opener before Jack Harrison pegged one back after a lapse at the back, before Virgil van Dijk restored the lead and then subsequently gave it away with a poorly judged clearance into the path of Patrick Bamford.
A second for Salah, a rocket into the top corner, would re-establish Liverpool’s lead at the break and while there were chances to add a buffer, Leeds were next on the scoresheet to equalise for the third time.
And while Marcelo Bielsa’s men had been quick to put out a statement of intent they did start to flag late in the piece and after a host of missed chances, another penalty would be cooly dispatched by the No. 11 to seal his hat-trick and the first three points of the season.
It was a night to remember for Salah, far and away Liverpool’s top performer and while he was “happy” about the win, when speaking to Sky Sports, the focus was on the required improvement as a defensive unit after Liverpool conceded three goals for the fifth time in 2020:
“It’s a good start for us. A tough team, they press high as well, so the intensity was really high. We had a good game.
“We shouldn’t have conceded three but this is the game, we have to react for that and we did a good job.
“They had a great game. There’s no fans but they play, they react really well and they scored three goals against us – that’s huge.
“I’m happy about the result and we have to keep on improving and try not to concede as many goals.”
And for the man between the sticks, the Reds’ response was worthy of praise as Leeds refused to back down and the champions stood up to the first test of the campaign.
“Definitely [three hard-earned points]. The team did really well, a good response for the first match of the season. It’s not easy against a tough opponent but we did really well.
We knew what we were waiting for, their attitude in the match – I think they are a really good team with good quality but with a brave heart also, so they made our night difficult.
I’m happy to have Mo Salah on the team, that he scored a hat-trick in the first match of the season so I’m really happy for the three points also.”
And there was a sense of relief and jubilation for Reds after the game as they took to Instagram to celebrate a hard-earned three points.
For the skipper, it not only marked a “great start to the new season” but it was also his first competitive appearance since injuring his knee against Brighton on July 8:
And for Andy Robertson and James Milner, it was a case of “thank god” for Salah after his match-winning heroics, while the latter also praised his former club who also have plenty to look forward to this season:
Ultimately, it was a stern test for Liverpool and one which should hold them in good stead for the season to come with plenty of lessons to be learned from the wild clash – especially at the back.
And they’ll be presented the chance to right their wrongs and add another three points to their tally when they meet a much-changed Chelsea side next Sunday afternoon.
Alisson Becker expressed his delight to have Mohamed Salah as a teammate and three points on the board after a thrilling victory over Leeds United.
Liverpool opened their 2020-21 Premier League campaign with a 4-3 win over Marcelo Bielsa's newly-promoted side at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Mohamed Salah netted a late penalty to confirm his hat-trick and secure the result for the champions, with Alisson believing such potency is a sign of things to come from the Egyptian this term.
The goalkeeper told Liverpoolfc.com: "He's hungry, he's started the season hungry and I'm happy because of this. He's a really important player for us.
"This gives him confidence and also pushes the other players to work even harder.
"We have a lot of quality with our front three. Sometimes just one scores but we know that everybody can improve from this game in the defensive phase and in attack. It's a good start for us.
"We know what we were waiting for and what their [Leeds'] attitude would be on the match.
"I think they are a really good team with good quality but with a brave heart also. They made our night difficult tonight but I think their night was even more difficult because of the way we played.
"I'm happy to have Mo Salah on the team and that he scored a hat-trick in the first official match of the season. I'm really happy for the three points also."
Well in, Reds ❤️ https://t.co/wiIMFpQcn8— LFC (Liverpool FC) 12th Sep 18:43
Jürgen Klopp's side were repeatedly pegged back by Leeds until Salah's settler in the 88th minute.
Alisson detailed the Reds’ acquired ability to constantly keep on pushing in pursuit of victory.
"It's something that is inside of us,” the Brazilian added. “Obviously we work every day really, really hard to arrive at the ground and do our best.
"Sometimes you work in some way and the opponents adapt between the game and we have to adapt also.
"It was just the first match of the season and I believe we have many things to improve but those things will come with the games."
The Egypt international’s hat-trick in the 4-3 win over Leeds took his tally to 76 in 109 matches since moving to Anfield.
He has scored 50 goals in 63 home games, second only to Alan Shearer (47 appearances) and Liverpool have now won each of the last 35 league fixtures in which he has found the net – overtaking Wayne Rooney’s competition record set between September 2008 and February 2011.
Since his blistering maiden campaign, when he scored 32 times in 36 appearances, the 28-year-old’s yearly total has been falling but what makes him so important to Klopp’s side is his all-round game.
“First and foremost, congratulations to him. He is a very special player,” said the Liverpool manager of Salah.
“The numbers tell the story a little bit. All the rest around you probably don’t know about.
“But this is a very good example of it. He put three more goals on his scoring list, but the performance all-round was absolutely exceptional in a game like this.
“He deserved the goals 100 per cent. Two were penalties, one was a sensational finish, but he deserved them as he was constantly pressing, pressing, constantly causing the opponent massive problems, one-v-one situations, played his football.
“There have been a lot of good performances for us from Mo for sure, but this was one of the better ones.
“He should be proud of it because it’s very special to get these kind of numbers. Long may it continue.”
Salah was one of the few players even close to the top of their game as the Premier League champions began their defence with an entertaining, if error-strewn, victory to end Leeds’ hopes of a dream start on their return to the top flight after 16 years.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side did what few visitors have done to Liverpool during their run of 60 unbeaten home league matches, stretching back to March 2017, and dominated possession.
They enjoyed 52 per cent of the ball but their manager was unhappy they did not make the most of that, although their 100 per cent success rate from their three shots on target suggested they fully capitalised.
It offers them plenty of encouragement for the remainder of the season.
“We played according to our style,” said Bielsa, who was rewarded for sticking to his principles.
“There were periods when Liverpool dominated and there were lots of periods where the game was even, in some moments we were able to be superior.
“The players were calm, they played a serene game and went into it confident.
“Confidence means that you shouldn’t be afraid and also the team-mates help each other not to be nervous, gives you extra confidence and motivates you.”
Salah scored two penalties in his hat-trick to bookend the scoring, the first in the fifth minute and the last in the 87th, as Virgil Van Dijk and Salah, who also scored with a rasping half-volley, saw goals cancelled out by Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich.
The start of the new season always brings much optimism, and when Liverpool U23s discovered they’d face Everton at home in their Premier League 2 opener, it’s fair to say there was even greater excitement in the air.
After the curtailment of the 2019-20 Academy campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the young Reds haven’t played competitively since March 24.
Now, with Barry Lewtas making the seamless transition from the U18s to become the new U23s manager, a new era begins at Kirkby.
And it starts with the small matter of a mini-derby.
Lewtas’ charges welcome Everton to the Academy in their first fixture of the 2020-21 season today – a game you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 12.50pm BST, with kick-off set for 1pm.
Ahead of the behind-closed-doors clash, we caught up with Lewtas to discuss his new role, the intensity of every derby match and more...
On an encouraging pre-season…
It was 177 days between games and we had to get the players back in and accustom them to training they were used to before the pandemic. The games that we organised were certainly challenging in terms of the opposition and they were all good at the right times as well. I’m pleased from an organisational point of view and the way the boys approached it was first class if I’m being honest. Obviously I’m starting this new role myself, so I couldn’t have asked for a better set of lads to work with in the set of circumstances that we have all been placed in.
On a new start at the Academy by taking charge of the U23s…
It’s an exciting challenge. I loved my time with the U18s and then circumstances changed. Critch left and there was an opportunity. I was asked to step in and I’m extremely excited. At the moment at the Academy we have a number of boys who have done well and in the U23s group we’ve got there are a number of boys I worked with previously, so I’m really excited for the season to start. The last six weeks of pre-season have been extremely enjoyable, tough as well, hard work. But we can’t wait to get going now.
On the addition of Gary O’Neil as assistant coach…
It’s great to have Gary with us and he has settled in really well. He adds his experience to the mix in terms of his playing career and he can have massive value – not only to the players but also to the staff as well. I must admit, the support staff we have with the U23s, who worked with Critch for a number of years, have been absolutely fantastic as well. We have Jack Ade, Mozzer [Mark Morris], Paul Kelly and Scott McAuley, the physios, and Speo [Dan Spearritt, U23s analyst] as well. They have been a great support to me as well. We have a really strong staff and they will all be important for me as we go through the season.
On Sunday’s Premier League 2 opener against Everton at the Kirkby Academy…
A baptism of fire! I’ve been at the club a long time now and even at U12 level the derby games were always one of, if not the, toughest games on the calendar. I understand at U23 level that will be the same but that’s what we want. We want to be playing against the best opposition, the best players and we want to be challenging ourselves at that level. To start the season with a bang if you like, it’s something we are certainly looking forward to. When the lads found out it was Everton for our first game, they were really excited. It will be a tough game but a great one to get going with.
On managing Liverpool U18s in some exciting derby games previously…
I think back to my first one as U18s coach when we won 4-3 with a last-minute winner in front of the Kirkby lights. All the games have been tough and this one will certainly be no different. Over the years Everton at Premier League 2 level under David Unsworth have been really strong. We aren’t expecting anything less on Sunday.
On his hopes and aspirations for 2020-21…
First and foremost, the boys have missed so much game time at such a young age because of the pandemic. We were cautious not to call it time wasted because we were able to do certain things with the boys away from the Academy, so it wasn’t wasted. But from a boys’ point of view, they weren’t playing football – which they love. So first and foremost, it’s to get the boys back playing, which we’ve done. The next step is that level of competition week-to-week and the demands of what competition brings. The hopes and expectations for me will be the same as it was at U18s level. My hope is the boys develop and they improve and then are ready to take that next step. Whether that is a step towards Melwood or the next step of their journey on loan, whatever it is, that’s always going to be the focus here. I’m extremely excited to see what the season can bring.
On FA Youth Cup winner Neco Williams netting a priceless goal for Wales last weekend…
People ask me a lot of questions about Curtis and Neco, but one thing I will say is I don’t think I ever did back-post heading with Neco! That is certainly credit to him. It’s great to see the progress he has made from the U18s and U23s to getting a chance with the first team. The exposure that the manager has afforded him at Melwood has been fantastic for him and the Academy. Obviously what’s come with that is the international call-up for Wales. To score a goal and to score the winning goal was fantastic for him. I know he is a proud Welshman. I watched the game and when he put the ball in the net I was so over the moon for him.
On the progress of Billy Koumetio, who played for Lewtas at U18 level last season…
Billy is brilliant. I’ve said publicly, personality-wise he has a fantastic character. He is a real credit to his parents, he is great to work with and is great company. Again, as an Academy we are working with the Premier League and world champions, but there are still opportunities for the boys to move up with the first team. What an unbelievable time for the first team in terms of the success but also in terms of we have got a manager who looks at the Academy and gives these players opportunities. It’s not really for me to comment too much on how Billy has done, but from an outsider looking in I’m sure he will be pleased and I’ve been pleased with what he’s done so far. It’s up to Billy to continue and listen and learn. It’s been great for him.
After Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Leeds, the media praised Mohamed Salah, criticised the defence and explained how the opening day showed how tough it will be to retain the title.
The Reds came out on top in a thrilling battle of the champions at Anfield to start the title attack with three points.
Virgil van Dijk’s header and a hat-trick in a sensational display from Salah was just enough to hold off a highly impressive Leeds side, who managed to peg the Reds back three times.
In trademark fashion, Liverpool found a route to victory despite producing a mixed display, and Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to have opened with a win in a tough first fixture.
Here’s the key analysis from the media on the exhilarating opening win.The media enjoyed the thrilling contest but felt it gave an indication on how challenging it will be to retain the title…
The Mail’s Oliver Holt labelled the match “one of the best first day games” ever seen as he lauded the fearlessness of both sides:
At Anfield on Saturday, we were privileged to see one of the best first day games of any English football season.
There was no timidity, just daring. Liverpool, the champions, and newly-promoted Leeds went at it like two of the great clubs of the English game and it was beautiful.
Writing for The National, Richard Jolly reserved praise for Leeds for their ambition and attacking approach which contributed to a brilliant fixture:
It was testament to the promoted club’s attacking intent and Bielsa’s considerable ambition that they had the ball in the Liverpool net five times, even if, as both sides had two goals disallowed, Illan Meslier had to retrieve it from his own net six times.
The breakneck pace of both sides reflected the two managers’ philosophies. It was breathless stuff, with high defensive lines and difficulties at the back for both sides contributing to the excitement.
Neil Jones, for Goal, explained how the contest illustrated just how tough it will be for the Reds to retain the title as opponents will now raise their game against the champions:
If Liverpool wanted a game to illustrate just how difficult it will be to retain their league crown, then this was it.There was widespread adulation for Salah following his brilliant hat-trick and stunning overall performance…
Jones labelled Salah’s display “magnificent” and assessed that this was reassuring to see the Egyptian in such red-hot form:
The Egyptian was magnificent, and finished the game clutching the match ball – only the fourth player in club history to do so in the first game of a league season, and the first since John Aldridge in 1988.
He hasn’t looked this sharp for a while. Leeds, and the overworked Stuart Dallas in particular, could not handle him.
But when you have a Salah in your side, you have a head start on the rest.
Salah, though, looks suitably delighted to be steaming forward under Klopp. And he looks as sharp as his summer haircut. Salah turned 28 three months ago and looks every inch a player in his prime.Reporters were less impressed with Liverpool’s defending and felt Klopp’s ‘attack the title’ vow was taken too literally…
The Independent’s Melissa Reddy wrote exactly that:
Liverpool were perhaps taking Klopp’s assertion that they would attack rather than defend the title too literally.
The BBC’s Phil McNulty thought Liverpool were given a taste of their own medicine as the Reds struggled to cope with Leeds United’s intensity:
Salah was in imperious mood up front but elsewhere Leeds were able to hurry Liverpool out of their stride and run through their midfield in a manner which would have disturbed manager Jurgen Klopp.
Karl Matchett, writing for the Independent, was disappointed to see Liverpool bring the post-title defensive form into the new campaign:
Defensively the Reds were the opposite, with the same individual sloppiness as was seen at the end of last term and an unnecessary amount of open space left for Leeds to counter-attack in.
Jurgen Klopp will know he won’t be able to rely on solely his attack winning matches every week and the run of clean sheets which typified their form last season needs to make a quick return.
Jones pulled no punches as he wrote off Liverpool’s defensive strength as a thing of the past, assessing that the Reds’ back-line is “not what it once was”:
And three times, it must be said, they found that Liverpool’s chin is not what it once was. Jurgen Klopp has promised the Reds will attack their title defence, and on this evidence he was right.
But Matchett took a more measured view as he pointed out how the lack of a proper pre-season, and thus chance to gradually build up to competitive action, had a crucial impact:
Perhaps we saw here an element of a shortened pre-season: teams not yet as solid as they would usually hope to be, not having had as much time to set the defensive lines in pre-season as in a normal year.
Fewer friendlies, fewer training sessions in general and a fragmented week before the season due to players being away on international duty – it all combined, perhaps, to have both these sides somewhat scattered with their defensive lines out of possession.Several defenders came in for some rare criticism, while the midfield was held accountable too…
McNulty assessed Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold as the main culprits of Liverpool’s sloppy defensive display:
Liverpool were also occasionally shambolic at the back, cut open far too easily with even the normally unflustered Van Dijk knocked out of his stride, committing an awful error for Leeds’ second goal, while Trent Alexander-Arnold had a game he will want to forget.
Of course, the sloppy performances of Gomez and Van Dijk will lead to questions about the lack of competition at centre-back with Dejan Lovren now departed. Joel Matip came on for the closing minutes, but after him, Klopp has only youngsters and makeshift options.
Three weeks remain in the transfer window. And after this display, the calls for further defensive reinforcements are only going to become louder.
Chugged away but didn’t really offer the Liverpool midfield a great deal, and lost track of Klich as the Pole ghosted into the penalty area to fire home for 3-3.
The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace praised Liverpool for once again showing the character and belief to find a way to win:
That said, Jurgen Klopp’s team found it from within them to win it – which says much about this side.
Matchett provided interesting analysis on how we may have seen some indications and changes in Liverpool’s midfield pecking order:
As it happened, the Dutchman [Wijnaldum] was the only Reds midfielder to play a full 90 minutes on the opening day, perhaps dampening expectations that he’s set for a quick exit.
Notably, Fabinho was left out having usually been a mainstay of Klopp’s team, while Curtis Jones was given the nod off the bench ahead of options including James Milner and Takumi Minamino. The youngster looks set for a huge season if he continues to improve and Klopp might have given some clues on a newly arranged order of preference in the centre of the park in this match.
As on the night of Liverpool’s coronation, and certainly to a greater extent than during the restart period, the absence of a crowd from the opening day at Anfield and from one of the grand fixtures of English football was sorely felt.
This place would have been a cauldron for a meeting of last season’s Premier League and Championship champions.
With the new Academy season set to begin this afternoon, supporters should note the following information regarding matches.
When do the Academy teams start their season?
The U23s start their Premier League 2 campaign with a home game at Kirkby today - a mini-derby against Everton U23s. Kick-off is 1pm BST.
Can supporters attend the game at Kirkby?
No, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, supporters are not allowed in to watch the match in person.
How long will this continue?
All matches will take place behind closed doors until at least October 1, 2020. The government is now reviewing when the public can attend sports events once again.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the overriding priority of both the club and the Premier League has been the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.
The safety of players, coaches, club staff and the local community is paramount. Strict protocols have been put in place to ensure that the Academy is as safe as possible for everybody present. These protocols will ensure that the 2020-21 season gets under way with the least risk possible, without adding any further strain on the NHS and other public services.
Where can I watch the match?
The U23s game will be screened live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO and highlights will be shown on LFCTV in the days that follow. There will also be regular updates here on Liverpoolfc.com and on all the club social media channels, including:
Will supporters be able to attend matches in the 2020-21 season?
Guidance in relation to the safe return of supporters to the Academy in Kirkby is constantly under review. The club continues to work closely with the Premier League, The Sports Grounds Safety Authority and the local authorities on planning for the safe return of supporters when it is permitted and safe to do so.
What are you doing to keep the Academy safe?
It is essential that the season operates in the safest way possible, prioritising public health in order to ensure that the 2020-21 season kicks off in the safest way possible.
We have worked to develop venue operation plans and COVID-19 stadium risk assessments, minimising both the risk to public health and reliance on local health and other emergency services.
Supporters will be kept informed as soon as there is the possibility of attending a match.
Until then, please support us safely.
Liverpool U23s start the new Premier League 2 season when they host Everton in the mini-derby at the Kirkby Academy today – watch the game live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 12.50pm BST.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1pm as Barry Lewtas' side get set for their first league outing since February 17.
Supporters are reminded that this is a behind-closed-doors fixture due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
All matches will take place behind closed doors until at least October 1, 2020.
Liverpool got off their Premier League defence in the most rollicking manner, winning by odd goal in seven, in what was a thrill-a-minute game. Liverpool took the lead three times and they were pegged back three times by the newly promoted side, but were not to be denied on the fourth such attempt.
Alisson started in goal while Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk and Robertson started in the back-line. Alisson was beaten by some fine finishes, though he was a tad unlucky for Leeds’ second goal as he got a touch but was not enough to prevent the goal.
The defence had a really average game, with Trent and Gomez unable to stop Harrison to stop for the first goal. Van Dijk’s careless attempted clearance opened up the opportunity for Bamford to equalise for the second time in the game. This was after Van Dijk beat the man marking setup with an intelligent run from deep to put Liverpool into the lead.
In midfield, Henderson made a surprise comeback after missing the whole pre-season alongside Naby Keita and Wijnaldum. Klopp made a reference to Henderson’s natural movement as an antidote to Leeds’ man marking as one of the reasons to putting him in. The midfield performance was quite pedestrian though, with very little impact in both attack and defence. Fabinho came in late in the game and won the decisive penalty.
In attack, the familiar sight of the front three of Mané, Firmino and Salah lined up. In what was a reversal from pre-season, Salah looked razor sharp and got his season off to a great start with an early penalty. A sweet finish doubled his goal tally which was rounded off with the late winning penalty. Mané, in direct contrast missed a handful of excellent opportunities to get his name on the goal scoring charts. Firmino was his usual self, keeping the team moving with his intelligent movement and one-touch football.
Man of the Match is a no brainer. Salah has now scored on opening day four seasons in a row. He looked razor sharp tonight with multiple attempts on goal and was alert to set up Mané couple of times. He looks ready to wrest the Golden boot back once again. An opening day hat trick in such a close result means he gets the Man of the Match along with the match ball.