Liverpool bagged three points with their win over Leeds United in a match that ended in a total of seven goals — two from penalties which Mohamed Salah briskly converted — but it’s safe to say: the team’s winning performance leaves much to be desired.
In a display we’ve seen before, namely last season’s Champions League defeat to Athlético and the recent Community Shield against Arsenal, the attacking trio of Salah, Sadio Mané, and Roberto Firmino could’ve done more. So much more.
The problem wasn’t the lack of attacking steam, but the team’s ongoing string of passes that ended up as missed opportunities and the manufacturing of space without the efficiency to find goal. Salah, with his speedy play threatened Leeds’ defense — topping off his goals from penalties with a outstanding third using his left foot — and Mané with his ability to brilliantly keep possession from defenders, weren’t ruthless enough to exploit the chances they had.
Leeds gave a tough fight with Bielsa’s side playing deep in defence while maintaining an aggressive midfield, but they only managed to win the ball 11 times in the Reds’ half — a stark difference to Liverpool’s 44 moments of ball-recovery in their opponent’s half. This often led to Leeds giving the ball away, but the Reds couldn’t capitalise on those errors.
The Argentinian manager said of his team’s loss: “In the second half especially, we struggled to get the ball from defence to attack, we didn’t create danger and although the effort was very good, it wasn’t enough to play the game on even terms.”
Liverpool took the chances given but sadly couldn’t finish — out of the 22 shots from Jurgen Klopp’s side, only six were on target and within the box, only five out of 17 shots were on targets (three if you discount the two from penalties). The Reds’ conversion rate could be better, especially from a side that helms Firmino, known for his impeccable build-up play, and clinical finishers Salah and Mané.
While not a frantic cause for concern, Liverpool may need to observe the front line’s complacency in finishing and inject some ruthlessness to gain a quick edge over their opponents instead of allowing them to get back into the game in the last quarter, the way Leeds managed to.