Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy last season | Pool/Getty Images
Liverpool begin their defence of the Premier League title on Saturday when they welcome newly-promoted Leeds United to Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were extraordinary last season, finishing 18 points clear of Manchester City. However, with Pep Guardiola adding the likes of Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake to his roster and Chelsea also making big moves in the transfer window, it promises to be a closer title race this time around.
Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
The visitors also come into the new season off the back of huge success, securing a long overdue promotion back to the top flight after a 16-year absence.
With one of the world’s most respected managers and some impressive additions to the squad, Leeds will be hoping for a comfortable return to the Premier League.
When Is Kick Off? Saturday 12 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 17:30 (BST)
Where Is it Being Played? Anfield
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? Michael Oliver
Jurgen Klopp has relatively few absentees ahead of the opening game of the season.
Summer arrival Kostas Tsimikas will not make his debut after being diagnosed with Covid-19. Captain Jordan Henderson is a doubt, having missed international duty, while fellow countryman Joe Gomez could be rested after playing 180 minutes in England’s Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark.
Gomez could be rotated out of the starting lineup | Michael Regan/Getty Images
As for Marcelo Bielsa, he only has Swiss defender Gaetano Berardi unavailable for selection. The 32-year-old is a long-term absentee with an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in July.
Spanish forward Rodrigo is expected to make his much-anticipated debut, having arrived from Valencia for a fee of approximately £27m.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Leeds: Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Koch, Dallas; Costa, Hernandez, Phillips, Klich, Harrison; Rodrigo.
Both sides come into this game in high spirits, having won the titles of their respective divisions last season.
The Reds cruised to the crown, but suffered a bit of a wobble towards the end of the season – failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last five league fixtures. The Community Shield defeat against Arsenal on penalties will have done little to quell any nerves.
Liverpool’s first competitive game of the season ended in defeat | Pool/Getty Images
On the other hand, Leeds ended the season with a flourish, winning each of their last six games while conceding just twice in that period.
However, the loss of Brighton loanee Ben White will be a huge blow to the Yorkshire club. Bielsa will be hoping that new arrival Robin Koch can fill the void.
Here is how the two teams have fared in their previous five outings.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (29/8)
Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool (26/7)
Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea (22/7)
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (15/7)
Liverpool 1-1 Burnley (11/7)
Leeds 4-0 Charlton (22/7)
Derby 1-3 Leeds (19/7)
Leeds 1-0 Barnsley (16/7)
Swansea 0-1 Leeds (12/7)
Leeds 5-0 Stoke (9/7)
For the second season in a row, Liverpool welcome the second tier champions to Anfield on the opening day. On the previous occasion, Klopp’s men ran riot in the first half and came away with a 4-1 victory against Norwich.
Bielsa is a popular figure at Elland Road | Michael Regan/Getty Images
However, they cannot expect it to be so comfortable this time around, as they come up against a defensively solid Leeds side who conceded just 35 goals last season.
Nonetheless, the home team should have enough quality to see off Bielsa’s men and get their title defence off to a positive start.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Leeds