Adopting his trademark crouching position in the technical area, Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa closely studied the mayhem unfolding in front of him on the Anfield pitch.
Bielsa’s first English Premier League game was barely a half-hour old and already there’d been five goals, countless chances and furious, end-to-end drama against champions Liverpool.
Back in the top division after a 16-year absence, Leeds are certainly going to be a fun watch under the Argentine coaching great this season.
Bielsa’s team went toe-to-toe with Liverpool in the first match of their title defence and was only denied a point only after conceding a late penalty, converted by Mohamed Salah to complete his hat-trick and a 4-3 win for the hosts.
“It was eventful,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said with a smile, summing up a chaotic match.
“They are going to give trouble to many teams in the league.”
Leeds didn’t take a step back with their intense pressing style, coming from behind three times at an empty Anfield after initially going behind to Salah’s first penalty of the game in the fourth minute.
Salah was given the chance to win the match in the 88th minute after a foul by Leeds’ high-profile new signing, Spain striker Rodrigo, and the Egypt forward didn’t waste it.
It was much more straightforward for Arsenal against another promoted team as the Premier League started a month later than scheduled due to the pandemic that is still preventing fans from attending games.
Fulham were swept aside in a 3-0 home loss to the Gunners, with Willian setting up all of the goals on his debut after a cross-London switch from Chelsea.
Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel – another debutant from Brazil, like Willian – and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the beneficiaries at Craven Cottage.
It already looks like it’s going to be a long season for Fulham, whose defending was suspect when they were relegated from the Premier League two seasons ago after conceding a division-high 81 goals.
Arsenal opened league play having already featured in the first match of the English season, the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium where they beat Liverpool last month.
Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick marked their debuts for Newcastle by scoring in a 2-0 win at West Ham.
The two offseason signings made an instant impact, with Hendrick setting up Wilson for the first goal in the 56th minute before scoring himself in the 87th.
The club’s seemingly astute work in the transfer market in recent weeks – left back Jamal Lewis started and impressed against West Ham after his arrival from Norwich – is helping to ease the frustration at Newcastle after the collapse of a Saudi-backed takeover bid.
Wilson joined from Bournemouth, who were relegated last season, and the England striker showed his ability as a goal poacher by reacting to Hendrick’s flick-on from a right wing to get to the ball ahead of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi to poke it over the line from close range.
Hendrick, a hard-working midfielder who arrived from Burnley, clinched victory at an empty Olympic Stadium when he collected a pass into the area and drove a fierce, angled shot into the corner from 15 metres.
Also on Saturday, Wilfried Zaha scored early as Crystal Palace defied a long injury list to beat Southampton 1-0.