Marcelo Bielsa questioning himself after Liverpool hammering for his Leeds United team

After another humiliating night against one of the top sides in the Premier Marcelo Bielsa has a big job on his hands to lift his Leeds United players for the relegation scrap they are now very much in.

By Tony Harber
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 10:43 am
Marcelo Bielsa admitted Leeds United were now in a relegation fight after their 6-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Marcelo Bielsa admitted Leeds United were now in a relegation fight after their 6-0 defeat at Liverpool.

The Whites conceded three goals in each half to lose 6-0 at Liverpool, they have now let in 16 goals in their last four games and 31 in nine league matches on their plunge into trouble.

They could be in the bottom three if results go wrong on Saturday and have the second worst goal difference in the division.

Tottenham, and England striker Harry Kane in particular, will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing this Leeds team on Saturday with Bielsa facing possibly his most difficult time since he came to Elland Road.

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While Liverpool were helped by a couple of penalty decisions from the same referee who also gave them two penalties when the teams met at Anfield last season and the Reds scored two of their six goals late on make no mistake it was another horror show from Bielsa's men on a par with the 7-0 hammering at Manchester City in December and the 5-1 loss at Manchester United in August.

Bielsa did not hide his disappointment at the extent of the Liverpool defeat.

He said: "The distances there were between the two teams we were never able to reduce them.

"A result like today you can't explain it with the absences.

"We are fighting relegation and of course it worries me, how is not going to?

"It's not just this game, it's in general we have been struggling to sustain what we want to do for the duration of a game.

"The players give their maximum. You can see it in the intensity and all the data that comes up in the games.

"So if a coach has this at his disposal the effort that the team gives it's very clear that my responsibility increases.

"How am I not going to question what I am doing? Of course, I question myself. When you ask yourself why the things are happening the question is I don't think the change in style will help what is happening."

On why Leeds have performed generally much worse against the top sides this season than they did last, Bielsa added: "Evidently, the two seasons are not the same.

"The security we were able to play with were weren't able to conserve this season. Certain games it has been evident our weakness, City, today, the two games where we have shown to be very weak.

"Apart from that we come from a defeat on Sunday thinking we could trust in our strengths, but evidently the conclusions today are totally negative."

As ever Leeds set their stall out to have a go at their high flying opponents with Raphinha reinstalled into the starting line-up.

Dan James almost stole the ball off the toes of keeper Alisson and could have had an early penalty, but Liverpool had the first chances with Luis Diaz forcing Illan Meslier into his first save.

And it was the hosts who went in front when their shout for a penalty was answered positively by referee Michael Oliver as Andy Robertson’s cross struck the arm of Stuart Dallas.

It surprised nobody when Mo Salah put away the spot kick and the Whites' early promise had come to nothing.

They did briefly think they had levelled when Rodrigo broke down the middle and combined with Jack Harrison to set up Raphinha to put the ball in the net. But any celebrations were ended when a linesman's flag correctly ruled the effort out.

James then slipped after looking to be free to run into the home box and that was the end of Leeds' good spell.

They were unlucky to be two down when allowing defender Joel Matip freedom to stroll forward then combine with Salah to fire home.

Any hopes of a comeback like the one in the previous game were soon dashed as Liverpool quickly made it 3-0. Again it was Salah from the spot after their second penalty was awarded for a foul on Sadio Mane by Luke Ayling right on the edge of the box.

Salah came close to his hat-trick as he raced clear only to see his chip over Meslier superbly cleared off the line by Junior Firpo.

Fabinho also missed a sitter as United predictably failed to deal with a set piece.

Bielsa responded by putting on two half-time substitutes with Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts sent on for the largely anonymous Rodrigo and Mateusz Klich. But there was no real change in the pattern of play as Mane hit a shot wide and Salah saw an effort saved by Meslier.

Leeds did force Alisson into a save finally just after the hour after a good run by Harrison led to Adam Forshaw getting a shot in.

Raphinha also saw a shot saved as the Whites made the game more even for a spell and Dallas, who had been moved into midfield from right-back, shot wide.

But a strong finish from Liverpool turned a disappointing evening into a miserable one for United as three more goals were scored.

First, Mane put away Jordan Henderson's cross. Then it was Mane again with a simple finish after Divock Origi's initial shot had fallen to him.

And in added time the Reds rounded off the scoring as Leeds' fallibility from corners was shown again when they allowed Virgil Van Dijk to head home Robertson's flag kick to make it 6-0.

Liverpool 6

(Salah 15, pen, 35 pen, Matip 30, Mane 80, 90, Van Dijk 90+3)

Wednesday, April 23, 2022

Premier League

Attendance:

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago (Henderson 68), Jones (Milner 77); Salah, Mane, Diaz (Origi 84).

Leeds: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling , Struijk, Firpo; Forshaw; Raphinha, Klich (Shackleton 45), Rodrigo (Roberts 45), Harrison; James (Gelhardt 61).

Referee: Michael Oliver