Liverpool vs Leeds United: van Dijk vs Bamford & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

Liverpool are set to lock horns with Leeds United in a Premier League encounter at Anfield on Saturday evening.

The Reds have been pretty inconsistent in their performances this season. After 1-0 wins over Manchester City and West Ham United at home, respectively, they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to basement club Nottingham Forest away last weekend and responded with a 3-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League in midweek.

While Jurgen Klopp’s side head into this fixture with some confidence, Leeds United yielded to a 3-2 defeat at home to Fulham last time out. The Whites are on an eight-game winless run, with the last four games ending in defeat. As a result, Jesse Marsch is under huge pressure ahead of his team’s trip to Anfield.

Without further ado, let us take a look at the key battles that could define the outcome of this game on Saturday.

#Thiago Alcantara vs Marc Roca

Thiago Alcantara is available for Liverpool again after missing the last two games with an ear infection, confirmed Jurgen Klopp on Friday.

With Thiago in the side, Liverpool are a different proposition to face altogether. The Spaniard sets the tempo of games for the Reds with his passing ability, energy and vision whilst helping Jurgen Klopp’s side dominate the opposition. He is a class act on and off the ball and can be unstoppable on his day.

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch will be wary of Thiago’s threat and could instruct Marc Roca to stop the Liverpool midfielder from dictating the game. Roca is proving to be a fine addition to this Leeds side, although his credentials will be put to test against top players in such big games.

If Leeds are to spring an upset against Liverpool, Roca must win his midfield duel against Thiago first.

#Patrick Bamford vs Virgil van Dijk

With Rodrigo and Luis Sinisterra doubtful, Leeds will look to Patrick Bamford to provide the majority of their goal threat on Saturday at Anfield.

Bamford is yet to open his account in nine attempts this season, but he still remains one of Leeds’ most important players under Marsch. The England international still needs time to get back to his best and produce the goods consistently for the Whites.

The man likely tasked with stopping Bamford will be Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman has not been at his best so far this term, with opponents taking advantage of his uncharacteristic lapses in concentration and errors in judgement.

Nonetheless, Van Dijk remains Liverpool’s defensive lynchpin and he will be raring to prove his credentials with a strong display against the struggling Leeds.

#Darwin Nunez vs Leeds United centre-backs

After a slow start to life as a Liverpool player, Darwin Nunez has started showing his true colours. The Uruguayan international headed in from Andy Robertson’s corner in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League win over Ajax to register his sixth goal for the Reds since joining them from Benfica in the summer.

Nunez is a man now brimming with confidence, causing a lot of problems for the opposition with his pace, movement and aerial prowess. He will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a Leeds side leaking goals for fun at the moment.

As Liam Cooper is doubtful, Marsch could pair Robin Koch with Diego Llorente in central defence. Koch and Llorente will face an uphill task of stopping Nunez at Anfield. For Leeds to stand any chance of beating Liverpool, the potential defensive pairing of Llorente and Koch must win the major battle against Nunez.

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