Liverpool will begin the 2020-21 Premier League season in one week's time by renewing acquaintances with Leeds United.
The respective champions of English football’s first and second tiers last term face off on the opening day of the new season in their first top-flight showdown since the 2003-04 campaign.
As the September 12 kick-off edges ever closer, we’ll be taking a look at various topics and subplots to watch out for – and we start with the Reds’ first opponents.
Led by Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds ended their 16-year exile from the Premier League in emphatic fashion last season.
The Yorkshire club finished 10 points clear of West Bromwich Albion at the summit having won 28 of their 46 Championship games, and boasted the meanest defence in the division – conceding 35 goals.
Their return to the top flight gets under way at Anfield, where the reigning Premier League champions will be waiting to begin their title defence – or ‘attack’, according to Jürgen Klopp – in a 5.30pm BST meeting next Saturday.
It’ll be Leeds’ first league visit to L4 since October 25, 2003, when goals from Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Florent Sinama-Pongolle secured a 3-1 win for Gerard Houllier’s Reds.
The visitors’ starting line-up that Saturday lunchtime included one James Milner, then aged just 17.
Now double that in years, the Liverpool No.7 will put boyhood allegiances to one side on what will certainly be a special personal occasion as he embarks on a sixth campaign with the Reds.
The sides later drew 2-2 at Elland Road in that 2003-04 campaign and have since met twice in the League Cup – Liverpool winning 1-0 away in September 2009 and 2-0 at home, under Klopp, in November 2016.
The latter game saw Ben Woodburn set a new record as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer – aged 17 years, one month and 14 days – with his 81st-minute strike at the Kop end.
Did you know?
- This is the seventh time in the Premier League era that the reigning champions have faced a newly-promoted side at home on the opening day, with the title-holders winning on all six previous occasions.
- The Reds are unbeaten in their last eight games against Leeds in all competitions, winning six and drawing two.
- Liverpool have only lost once on the opening day of a top-flight season when they are reigning champions – winning 12, drawing five, and losing 2-0 against West Brom in the 1923-24 campaign.