Defending Premier League champions Liverpool welcome newly-promoted Leeds to Anfield on Saturday evening. Mark O'Haire expects the underdogs to make their mark.
"Thirteen of Liverpool’s opening 15 league matches paid out for BTTS backers last term"
Liverpool v Leeds
Saturday September 12, 17:30
Liverpool wish to remain a "results machine"
Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league title after a campaign of relentless dominance. The Reds amassed 86 points with 28 victories, two draws and a single defeat from 31 games before being confirmed in top spot - at one stage the Merseysiders led the table by 25 points - a record gap between a side in first and second in the English top-flight.
Retaining their crown is now top of Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp's agenda with the German boss believing the success of the Reds' defence will be determined more by their ability to remain a "results machine" than the number of signings the club make before the transfer window closes. Thus far, left-back Kostas Tsimikas is the club's only new arrival.
Klopp is comfortable with his settled squad and suggested the champions' mentality will also make a decisive contribution in 2020/21. Without European distractions post-lockdown, plus no major international tournaments for the team's collection of global stars this summer ensures Liverpool's leading lights are refreshed and ready to go again.
Leeds end 16-year Premier League exile
No side dominated the Championship quite like Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa over the past two years. The Whites may have fallen short of their promotion target in 2018/19 but the Yorkshire outfit made no mistake last term as the second-tier title was supremely-sewn up by a cushy 10-point margin - Bielsa's boys concluded the campaign with maximum points from their final six outings.
Leeds haven't been able to secure the permanent signature of key defender Ben White this summer, although the newly-promoted club have splashed the cash on Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia and German international centre-half Robin Koch. Both arrivals should suit Bielsa's high-pressing, high-intensity system down to the ground.
The versatile Stuart Dallas should be deemed fit enough to feature after shaking off injury concerns to appear for Northern Ireland in midweek. Elsewhere, Kalvin Phillips should operate in the holding role as Bielsa remains married to his tried-and-tested 4-1-4-1 system with Patrick Bamford likely to make way for Rodrigo in the central striker position.
Layers taking no chances with Liverpool
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight games against Leeds in all competitions (W6-D2-L0), since a 2-1 defeat in April 2001 in the Premier League. The Whites have lost their last three away trips to Anfield across all competitions, although the two teams haven't crossed swords in Merseyside since a League Cup clash back in November 2016.
Liverpool [1.29] have won three of four curtain-raisers under Jurgen Klopp (W3-D1-L0), scoring 15 goals. The Reds are unbeaten as hosts since the start of 2018/19, tabling W47-D10-L0 during that sample, racking up an average of 2.67 goals per-game. However, the Merseysiders weren't overly convincing when hosting Norwich at this stage last term.
Despite taking the Championship title, Leeds [11.50] rarely produced the goods when travelling to the second-tier elite in 2019/20. The Whites managed only two triumphs in nine trips to the top-10 (W2-D3-L4), recording a solitary shutout in the process. Even so, Marcelo Bielsa's men may benefit from playing against more attack-minded sides this season.
Bielsa's boys can make their mark
Traditionally, Liverpool's clashes with Leeds have always proven entertaining affairs and there's hope that Saturday evening's encounter will live up to the billing. The champions are understandably short in the pre-match markets but the newcomers look well capable of causing the Reds a few headaches at Anfield with Both Teams To Score interesting at [1.95].
Both teams prefer to play front-foot football, and the lack of match practice in both camps could be beneficial to the forward-thinking pair. Thirteen of Liverpool's opening 15 league matches paid out for BTTS backers last term, whilst Leeds produced an exceptional 1.72 Expected Goals (xG) average per-game en-route to top Championship honours.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 188.00 pts
Returned: 207.09 pts
P/L: +19.09 pts
Back Both Teams To Score at [1.95] in Liverpool v Leeds