5 talking points as Liverpool’s absorbing draw with Leeds overshadowed by ESL

On a day dominated by upheaval and fallout, there was also a game of Premier League football.

Liverpool travelled to Leeds with the wrath of their own fans, pundits and politicians ringing in their ears over their involvement with the European Super League.

But that did not stop Jurgen Klopp's men contesting a fine game of football with their hosts.

The champions took the lead in a flowing fixture just after the half-hour mark, with Sadio Mane finishing into an open net after excellent work by Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Jota, in particular, was a constant threat for the visitors, but Leeds' grip on possession – in typical Marcelo Bielsa fashion – grew ever-stronger as the match wore on.

Alisson was forced into an excellent save to deny Jack Harrison midway through the second half and Tyler Roberts also tested the Brazilian.

And Leeds grabbed a deserved goal through Diego Llorenete in the 87th minute after the centre-back rose highest to nod in a corner.

The result ends Liverpool's winning run in the Premier League and dents their hopes of a top-four finish – although it remains to be seen what that will count for.

Here are five talking points from Elland Road.

1. Mane's barren run ends

Sadio Mane's only focus ahead of the encounter with Leeds was ending his nine-match wait for a Premier League goal.

The Senegalese forward was in the midst of his longest barren run in the top flight for Liverpool, with his previous goal coming against Tottenham in January.

Mane ensured his drought came to an end at Elland Road, finishing a fine team move set in motion by Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese forward dropped between the lines to collect the ball and feed Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, and the latter was able to guide the ball into Mane's pass for a simple finish into a gaping net.

Amid the chaos unfolding back at Anfield and other 'Big Six' grounds, the excellent team move was a welcome distraction.

2. Reds duo roll back the years

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have been stifled by defences throughout the season; there is a sense opposition sides have learned to crowd them out to prevent their threatening crosses and marauding runs.

But against Marcelo Bielsa's high-pressing side, space opened up for Liverpool's full-backs to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

Alexander-Arnold picked up an assist for Sadio Mane's goal to add to his vital winner against Aston Villa last week, while Robertson excelled in the space the Senegal forward left as he drifted infield.

The pair's task was made easier due to Raphinha's absence for through injury, which lessened the threat Leeds posed on the flanks.

Bielsa's tactics also left his side vulnerable to overloads in the wide areas, and it's likely Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will have a tougher time against Newcastle on Saturday.

But it was fantastic to see the two creative forces having such a significant impact on a game once again.

3. Fabinho fills in

After making his eagerly-anticipated return to defensive midfield last month, Fabinho found himself back at centre-back for the clash with Leeds.

Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips have formed a workable partnership in recent weeks and it was a blow for Liverpool to see the latter ruled out with a hamstring injury with the release of the team news.

But in Fabinho, Klopp has the consummate professional; the Brazilian has been a reliable performer whenever and wherever he has been called on throughout the season.

Admittedly, Fabinho was fortunate Patrick Bamford did not punish his misplaced pass in the first half, with the Englishman's heavy first touch allowing Alisson to smother the danger.

Liverpool appeared to be on course to keep a clean sheet with a centre-back partnership comprised of a stand-in option in Fabinho and a 21-year-old loanee in Kabak – although Diego Llorente's late header served as a sucker punch to ensure that was not the case.

4. Leeds turn the screw

After an evenly-matched first 45 minutes, the hosts took control of the match in the second half.

Alisson was forced into fine saves to deny Jack Harrison and Tyler Roberts, while Patrick Bamford's effort clattered back off the bar.

This match may not have been the pulsating goal-fest which kicked off the season – September's 4-3 win for Liverpool – but it was an intriguing tactical battle.

The intensity, movement and threat Marcelo Bielsa's side have shown all campaign – regardless of their opposition – was on full display at Elland Road and Diego Llorente's header earned them a deserved point.

5. Reds' winning run ended

If Liverpool's owners have their way, this could have absolutely no significance as Liverpool will not be attempting to compete in the Champions League going forward.

Nonetheless, the Reds' top-four hopes were dented by their draw West Yorkshire, which saw them fail to capitalise on West Ham's defeat by Newcastle to leapfrog the high-flying Irons.

Liverpool's run of three consecutive Premier League wins came to an end and the gap between them and the top four is likely to grow as Chelsea take on Brighton in their game in hand on Tuesday.

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