Under-fire coach Jesse Marsch and Leeds United got a huge 2-1 win at Liverpool on Saturday, with the game-winner coming from Crysencio Summerville in the 89th minute to send the Anfield partisans into shock and the visiting Leeds support into ecstasy. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
• It was a deserved win for Leeds—and a phenomenal performance by goalkeeper Illan Meslier. These are the kinds of results that can turn seasons around. Leeds hadn’t won in eight league games and had lost four in a row, sinking into the relegation zone and putting Marsch’s job in serious jeopardy. So what do they do? They go and win at Anfield. Rodrigo’s fourth-minute goal was a gift from Joe Gomez, and it looked like order was being restored when Mohamed Salah equalized 10 minutes later. But Meslier was immense in goal, making nine saves, and Leeds never stopped going toe-to-toe with Liverpool. If anyone wondered whether the Leeds players had stopped playing for Marsch, they answered that today with an enormous effort for every minute of the contest. That paid off in the game’s final stages, when good work by second-half sub Willy Gnonto and Patrick Bamford (who struggled otherwise) put the ball on the foot of Summerville, who stabbed it past Alisson for the match-winner and pulled his shirt off in a wild celebration. The game marked the first defeat ever for Virgil van Dijk in his 70 matches played there.
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• The American players were terrific. Leeds had really missed Tyler Adams when he was out injured in the last game, a 3-2 loss to Fulham, and he came back with authority at Liverpool. Adams did what he does best: cover a lot of space, win balls, pass the ball upfield and harass opponents like Andy Robertson. Adams also has a swagger about him that tells everyone that he belongs here in the biggest games at the most hallowed stadiums. Like Adams, Brenden Aaronson played the entire game, and he had his moments, including hitting the crossbar on a first-half shot attempt. And like Adams, Aaronson brought an energy and commitment that didn’t waver. Even during the toughest moments so far this season, Adams and Aaronson have been two of Leeds’s best players, and if you’re a U.S. fan you have to be happy seeing how well they have performed and how many minutes they have gotten to be ready for the World Cup.
• Marsch should get a reprieve now. Is it crazy that Leeds has just three wins, and two of them have come against Liverpool and Chelsea? Yeah. But the truth is that almost all the underlying data has shown that Leeds’s performances have been better than where the team has been in the table. Marsch has been saying he has the board’s support while acknowledging that he needed to get some Ws, and soon. Leeds has three more games before the World Cup break—league matches against Bournemouth and Spurs and a League Cup tie with Wolves—and it seems likely now that Marsch will remain the coach through the World Cup break. It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of his team’s win at Anfield. Liverpool needed points badly and couldn’t get them. And in one 90-minute game, Leeds may have turned its season around. We’ll know more soon enough, but Leeds players have to know that their ceiling is high. They just need to approach it more often.
What are your thoughts on the game? You can join the discussion in the comments below.
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Historic win for LUFC at Anfield, which has been a venue of high drama for JM. It would be interesting to see this side add an athletic 9 in January. And BTW, need to see more of Gnonto on the pitch!
Grant - as an Arsenal fan, I have to say that Leeds deserved a draw if not win against us. What’s shocking is how poorly they’ve done against team like Villa and Leicester. Is this a case of them playing to the level of thei competition?