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On This Day – Leeds United 4 Liverpool 5, 13-4-1991

On This Day – Leeds United 4 Liverpool 5, 13-4-1991

This is a new series where we look back on a particular game from the same date as that of publication, with the focus on a notable numbers-related happening.

We start off with a classic game from 1990-91 – check the video to see how entertaining it was – just before Graeme Souness was appointed as Kenny Dalglish’s successor as Liverpool manager.

With Ronnie Moran in charge as caretaker, they travelled to Elland Road take on Leeds United, back in Division 1 for the first time since 1981-82 but making a good impression – they would go on to finish fourth.

The Leeds line-up adhered to the classic numbering established in Don Revie’s era and restored by Howard Wilkinson. John Lukic kept goal, with a back four of Mel Sterland, Chris Fairclough, Chris Whyte and Mike Whitlow. Gordon Strachan, David Batty and Garys McAllister and Speed were the midfield with Carl Shutt partnering Lee Chapman in attack.

With left-back Tony Dorigo, striker Rod Wallace added, it was the nucleus of the team which would claim the league title in 1992.

While they were fairly conventional though, Liverpool’s numbering system was unusual, both in terms of what was normally seen in England and compared to what had become their ‘standard’ format by then.

Liverpool had failed to win any of their previous three games and so they needed a victory to stay in touch with a rampant Arsenal.

Four days beforehand, they had drawn at home to Coventry City, with Gary Gillespie wearing 11 in defence but he made way for striker David Speedie, a mid-season signing from Coventry City. In addition, left-back David Burrows came back into the side for Gary Ablett, taking his number 6.

Steve Staunton, who could also play left-back, had been operating in midfield with 3 on his back in the absence of Steve McMahon (usually 11) but he dropped back to partner Glenn Hysen in defence, giving the back four a Uruguayan feel.

Speedie’s inclusion meant a change in formation, which simultaneously partly explains why Liverpool scored five, but also why they let in four. He partnered Ian Rush, with Peter Beardsley dropping deeper to play behind them while Ray Houghton, Jan Molby and John Barnes were in midfield. Very attacking, but little in the way of defensive cover.

For the clash with Norwich City a week later, Souness was in situ and he employed a 3-4-3 formation as the Canaries were beaten 3-0.


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On This Day – Leeds United 4 Liverpool 5, 13-4-1991