Liverpool will aim to return to winning ways when it hosts a depleted Leeds team at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool FC vs. Leeds United FC
Sunday, December 26 – 7: 30 AM EST at Anfield
The Reds’ eight-game winning streak came to an end when they drew 2-2 with Tottenham last weekend. Goals from Diogo Jota and Andrew Robertson left them 2-1 up with 15 minutes remaining, but then Son Heung-Min grabbed an equalizer for Spurs.
To make matters worse, Robertson was then sent off, so he will be suspended for this game. Manager Jürgen Klopp bemoaned officiating decisions that went against his team, but Liverpool will now have to put that result behind them and regroup.
Liverpool Chasing Premier League Glory
Liverpool won the Premier League after finishing comfortably ahead of its closest rivals at the end of the 2019/20 season. Long-term injuries to defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez thwarted their title defense last season, but the Reds are now serious contenders once again.
Klopp’s men have 12 wins, five draws, and just one defeat from 18 games so far this season. Liverpool is the top-scoring team in the Premier League, and it has the fourth-best defensive record in the division.
Leeds Plunges Down the Table
The gulf in quality between Liverpool and Leeds right now is vast. Marcelo Bielsa’s team is on a three-game losing streak, which has seen it drop to 16th in the standings – just five points clear of the relegation zone. There are mitigating circumstances, as half of the first team has been out injured, but Bielsa’s steadfast refusal to adapt his tactical approach has also caused problems for Leeds.
It has three wins, seven draws, and eight defeats from 18 games so far this season. Only 19th-placed Newcastle has conceded more goals than Leeds thus far. On average, it has conceded two goals per game, but that has really escalated in recent weeks.
It lost 3-2 to Chelsea on December 11, before suffering a 7-0 annihilation at the hands of Man City and then losing 4-1 to Arsenal at Elland Road last weekend.
Leeds is missing star midfield Kalvin Phillips, forwards Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo, and Daniel James, and defenders Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Jamie Shackleton, and Charlie Cresswell. Any team would miss nine members of its first-team squad, but Leeds is not exactly blessed with a great deal of depth at the best of times, so it has struggled in recent weeks.
A Covid-19 outbreak has deprived Liverpool of the services of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago Alcántara, and Curtis Jones. Captain Jordan Henderson is out with a cold. Robertson is suspended, Divock Origi has a knee injury, and Harvey Elliott is a long-term absentee.
The absence of Henderson, Alcántara, Henderson, Jones and Elliott leaves Klopp with very few options in midfield. He had to start teenager Tyler Morton alongside James Milner and Naby Keïta against Spurs, and that trio could continue, although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another option.
Despite missing a bunch of important players, Liverpool should overwhelm Leeds in this game. Bielsa is also without lots of key men, and Liverpool’s squad is a lot deeper. Leeds has been leaking goals in recent weeks, while Liverpool boasts the deadliest attack in the Premier League, which does not augur well for the Whites.
EPL Pick: Liverpool -2 Asian Handicap (-150) at DraftKings
EPL Pick: Liverpool to win and over 3.5 Goals (-120) at Bet365
EPL Pick: Diogo Jota to score (-111) at Bet365