EPL

The Numbers Game: Salah and Liverpool aim to pile more misery on Leeds boss Marsch

By Sports Desk October 28, 2022

Liverpool fans will say their team is like a box of chocolates at the moment in that you never know what you're going to get, and also they can be hazardous to your health.

A wobbly start to the campaign looked to have got back on track after wins against Manchester City and West Ham, only for an insipid defeat at Nottingham Forest last week to send Jurgen Klopp's men back into crisis.

A 3-0 win at Ajax on Wednesday to secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League should boost confidence again, but it is still anyone's guess as to which version of the Reds will turn up when they host Leeds United on Saturday.

Jesse Marsch heads to Anfield under serious pressure himself, with Leeds having not won in eight Premier League games (D2, L6) since beating Chelsea 3-0 at Elland Road in August.

Stats Perform has taken a look behind the numbers heading into this clash to try and get to the bottom of what can be expected.

Home comforts can calm Reds nerves

They may have not had the best start to the campaign domestically, having not won any of their five Premier League away games (D2 L3), but Liverpool remain a force to be reckoned with at Anfield.

Klopp's side are unbeaten 29 league home games (W22 D7), scoring 73 goals and conceding just 16 in that run.

It has not all been plain sailing, having fallen behind in five of their previous six at Anfield prior to back-to-back 1-0 wins against City and West Ham, but more often than not they get the job done.

Virgil van Dijk is still yet to suffer a Premier League defeat in his home stadium since his move from Southampton in January 2018 (70 games – W59 D11).

You've lost that winning feeling

When Leeds were celebrating a well-earned victory against Chelsea on August 21, few would have thought they would not have experienced another by late October.

As mentioned, the Whites are winless in their last eight league games, which is the longest current run of any team in the Premier League.

Leeds have also lost each of their past four away games, last losing five in a row on the road in the top flight between January and March 2003 – the fifth game of which was at Liverpool, where they were beaten 3-1.

They will also be missing several players through injury, with Rodrigo Moreno's likely absence a blow as the Spaniard has scored five goals in 10 Premier League games this season, just one fewer than he netted in 31 appearances last season, and just two less than he managed in his best scoring season in the competition in 2020-21 (seven in 26 games).

Mo Salah, fewer problems

Mohamed Salah has been the subject of much debate this season, seemingly not hitting his usual heights.

Last season's joint-top scorer in the Premier League seemingly enjoys facing Leeds, though, having been involved in six goals in two home appearances against them (five goals, one assist).

Salah has 10 goals in 17 games in all competitions, and is coming off another fine finish to open the scoring in Liverpool's victory in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The Egypt forward has also created more chances from open play than any other player in the Premier League this season (28). He is creating 2.6 chances per 90 minutes on average this season, his best rate in a single campaign in the competition.

No more bottom feeding

While they have dropped some sloppy points this season, Liverpool could at least take some comfort in the fact their only Premier League defeats had been against fellow big fish Manchester United and Arsenal.

That was until last week when they handed three points to bottom club Forest, and they will be looking to avoid a similar story this time around.

Liverpool have not lost consecutive Premier League games against sides in the relegation zone since March 2012, when a defeat at QPR was followed by a home loss to Wigan Athletic.

They have already lost more league games this season (three) than they did in the whole of 2021-22 (two), while their 16 points from 11 games is their worst return at this stage of a campaign since 2014-15 (14).

Leeds might smell blood, or arguably more likely, face the wrath of a wounded beast.

Related items

  • Late Lucas Digne goal sees Aston Villa snatch win over battling Luton Late Lucas Digne goal sees Aston Villa snatch win over battling Luton

    Aston Villa maintained their push for a top-four finish in the Premier League as substitute Lucas Digne headed an 89th-minute winner to defeat Luton 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

    Unai Emery’s side looked to have thrown away two points, allowing Luton to fight back from two goals down in the second half, until Digne arrived at the far post to turn Moussa Diaby’s deep cross past Thomas Kaminski and into the net, in front of ecstatic away fans.

    The hosts had fought back bravely to level the game at 2-2, Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris scoring after a brace from Ollie Watkins had seemingly put Villa in control at the break.

    Defeat for Rob Edwards’ side was their fourth in a row, whilst Villa maintained their five-point lead over Tottenham in the race for the Champions League.

    Kaminski had been the home side’s hero in the opening quarter, first diving full stretch to turn away a right-footer from Jacob Ramsey, then yet more acrobatically when Watkins got in down the right and lashed one towards the near post, beaten behind brilliantly by the goalkeeper.

    Yet his endeavours were rendered in vain a minute later when from the resulting corner Watkins headed Villa in front. Leon Bailey’s ball arched invitingly into the six-yard box where the Villa striker had got free, and he used the space afford by slack Luton marking to rise up and direct the ball coolly past Kaminski into the top corner for his 20th goal of the season.

    Villa lost the influential Ramsey to injury on the half-hour mark, but it did little to break their confident stride. Watkins almost made it two 10 minutes before the break, standing up Teden Mengi on the right before knocking it round the defender and cracking a low shot off Kaminski’s far post.

    Luton had been warned about Watkins’ pace in behind but their high line continued to allow him space, and soon he had made good on his threat of a second.

    The defence had pushed up towards near the centre circle when Douglas Luiz lumped one over the top for Villa’s top scorer to stride on to. With no one in orange near him, he made light work of clipping Villa’s second goal in off the post. VAR checked for offside, but Watkins had timed his run perfectly.

    Edwards’ side emerged with renewed urgency after the break and the home support responded in kind, roaring their team on as they began to find success attacking down the right with the lively Issa Kabore.

    A goal to give them hope arrived after 66 minutes. Villa failed to deal with a corner, forcing Matt Cash into a desperate headed clearance off the line. Still the defence dithered, and as the ball ricocheted back into the six-yard box, Chong pounced to thump it home.

    Suddenly Villa were tottering. Six minutes later, their lead was gone and it was the simplest Luton goal.

    Alfie Doughty hit a huge, raking free-kick from near the touchline which sailed over everyone to the back post. Arriving unmarked with time to pick his spot was Morris, who timed his run expertly and with barely an upwards glance swept it beyond Martinez.

    Luton were now rampant and an almost identical move gave Morris the chance to win it, fractionally failing to make the required contact as the ball was flashed across goal from Doughty’s free-kick.

    They looked at least to have done enough for a point, but then came Digne’s dramatic intervention at the death to break Luton hearts and keep Villa in the Champions League driving seat.

  • Jurgen Klopp saw nothing wrong with Liverpool’s winning goal at Forest Jurgen Klopp saw nothing wrong with Liverpool’s winning goal at Forest

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insisted he saw nothing wrong with Darwin Nunez’s controversial stoppage-time winner at Nottingham Forest.

    Nunez marked his return from injury by heading home in the ninth minute of time added on to seal a 1-0 win, which lifted his side four points clear at the top of the Premier League.

    But the Uruguay international’s last-gasp effort left Forest’s players, staff and fans furious at the final whistle after referee Paul Tierney had stopped play before the build-up to Liverpool’s winner for an apparent head injury to Ibrahima Konate.

    Tierney blew with Forest in possession on the edge of Liverpool’s area and after Konate had quickly recovered, the official dropped the ball to visiting goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who then started the move that led to his side’s dramatic winner.

    Klopp said: “It happened exactly the same in the first half didn’t it? Exactly the same, just the other way round.

    “I accepted it would happen like that because it happened in the first half. If it didn’t happen in the first half, I would have asked the question as well.

    “I would assume that’s the rule, I don’t know. But because it happened twice and got handled exactly the same, I don’t really see their reasons for a discussion.”

    Earlier in the game, Tierney halted a Liverpool attack after Forest skipper Ryan Yates was felled by Harvey Elliott’s shot and play resumed with home goalkeeper Matz Sels taking possession.

    Klopp said: “I understand 100 per cent the excitement and the anger of Nottingham, of course, they fought for everything. But it happened twice the same and was consistent.”

    Nunez’s last-gasp effort secured Liverpool their first league win at the City Ground in almost 40 years and 14 matches to heap the pressure on Manchester City and Arsenal, who play on Sunday and Monday respectively.

    Klopp said it had been a huge effort from his injury-hit squad, who have registered six straight wins in all competitions, including last Sunday’s League Cup final win over Chelsea.

    “Four games in 11 days, come on. Five in 15,” Klopp added. “It’s really tough. With our squad situation it’s super-tough and how the boys fought through that is really special.

    “The fourth game was the toughest. It was an unbelievable effort the boys put in. A proper, proper shift.

    “If you had asked me 12 days ago if it was possible to win all four games, I’d have said no.”

    Forest’s players and staff surrounded Tierney at the final whistle, with coach Steven Reid shown a red card, while boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to comment on the incident after the final whistle.

    Forest later dismissed reports that owner Evangelos Marinakis had chased Tierney down the tunnel.

    Nuno said: “I will not comment on the referee. We played a very good game against a very good team, fantastic players and manager and we limited them.

    “They had chances, we had chances, it was a good game of football. We had clear chances to do better, to improve. We should have been more clinical.

    “I’m proud of the boys because they worked very hard. They combined, they helped each other, they defend the box, they did two-on-ones – they did everything. But we can improve.”

  • Enzo Maresca says Leicester must be mentally strong after third successive loss Enzo Maresca says Leicester must be mentally strong after third successive loss

    Leicester manager Enzo Maresca said his team will need to be mentally strong after losing the last three Championship games and seeing their lead at the top of the table cut to just three points.

    QPR produced a shock result at the King Power Stadium as goals from Ilias Chair and Sinclair Armstrong earned them a 2-1 win that boosts their hopes of avoiding relegation.

    Leicester pulled a back through defender Ben Nelson’s first senior goal but they could not find an equaliser and both Ipswich and Leeds are closing in on the leaders.

    “It’s a bad feeling. In the last three defeats, we dominated with the chances but the most important thing is to score goals. We lacked quality in the last third,” said Maresca.

    “I don’t think it was a matter of being nervous, I didn’t have this feeling from the players. With 11 games to go, we need to finish in the best way.

    “It’s been long time since we have been at the top and everyone is chasing us, we can’t think about that, we just need to win games.

    “When you drop points and the rest win, you see yourself that they are coming, but we need balance at the moment. You cannot be so happy or so sad.

    “If you get too nervous it could be dangerous, if you relax, it could be dangerous. You have to be mentally strong because we have a game in three days (at Sunderland).”

    QPR manager Marti Cifuentes praised his players, but said a “great escape” is still not complete after a third successive win, which only lifted them one place up the table and leaves them outside the bottom three only on goal difference.

    “We performed at a really high level against a team that is extremely good. They are a very good side with a fantastic coach and I’m sure they will go up despite the last three defeats,” said Cifuentes.

    “All the credit to the players because they were very well organised for a long time. We were clinical as we had to be.

    “I thought Leicester would be more dangerous and angry after the last two defeats.

    “It was an important win for us, but I’m not getting carried away with a victory. The reality is the table shows we are still in a big battle. To get out and achieve this great escape, there is still a lot more to be done.”

    Cifuentes praised Chair for opening the scoring. The Morocco international has continued to feature amid reports he faces a year in prison after being found guilty in Belgium of assault, with QPR saying on February 23 that “the legal proceeding is yet to reach its conclusion”.

    The Spanish coach added: “I am very pleased with Ilias and the rest of the players so I am not talking much about other things that the club had already commented on. I am pleased about his goal and he is a very important player for us.”

    Cifuentes was also delighted with 20-year-old forward Armstrong, who scored with his first touch after coming on as a 57th-minute substitute.

    “It was a fantastic first touch, a fantastic way to start the game for him, he gave us exactly what we were looking for,” he said.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.