Liverpool vs Sheffield United
Referee: Mike Dean
TV: Sky Sports Box Office
Reigning champions Liverpool have gone two games without a win and take on Sheffield United who are already struggling at the bottom of the Premier League.
Last time out the Reds returned from Goodison Park with just one point. Much has been said post-match but it can’t be ignored that, amongst all the controversy, Liverpool have just one point from a possible six following the demolition against Aston Villa in the preceding match-week.
The mid-week win against Ajax in the Champions League got Liverpool back to winning ways after their rough start to the Premier League. A 1-0 victory was enough for the Reds to get the win, as they managed to keep just their second clean sheet of the season. Not only was it crucial for the Reds to win their first Champions League game, but also for their mentality – it could spark some momentum into the team and get them back on track.
Conversely, it has been a slow start for the Blades, who are stuck with just one point after playing five games. In attack they have struggled – two goals in five games is nowhere near good enough – and you can see why they are being labelled as early relegation candidates.
Last week saw the Blades draw 1-1 against the newly promoted Fulham, as Billy Sharp rescued a point in the 85th minute with a penalty kick. The danger signs are already showing for Sheffield United, and this week’s opponents are on a completely different level to what they faced last week.
Last season Sheffield United were one of the best teams defensively, keeping 13 clean sheets. But, so far this season, they have failed to keep one. The Blades are missing Jack O’Connell who is out for the season, but their poor start can’t be attributed to just one player. Dean Henderson is also a miss for Chris Wilder’s side – he has gone back to his parent club Manchester United and his replacement, Aaron Ramsdale, isn’t proving to be of the same standard.
The Blades will need to tighten up defensively if they are to get any points against the Reds. To make matters worse for Sheffield United, Liverpool have won their last three Premier League games against the club without conceding a single goal, winning by an aggregate score of 3-0 last season.
But the Blades should take confidence in Liverpool’s ropey defence. Since having the League title confirmed last season, Liverpool have conceded 25 goals in 12 Premier League games – no side has conceded more. Their previous 25 League goals conceded had come across a period of 38 games. The Champions of England have not been themselves defensively this season, so there could be something in this game for Sheffield United just yet.
Liverpool will make last minutes decisions on the fitness of Alisson Becker, Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip ahead of Saturday’s game against Sheffield United. The trio are back in training but it remains to be seen whether they will be fit enough to start the game.
However, Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kostas Tsimikas are definitely not available for the fixture. Klopp made a triple substitution against Ajax on Wednesday bringing off the infamous trio Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Saido Mane. Fortunately, this wasn’t due to any injuries and the forwards are fit to face Sheffield.
Klopp said in his press conference: “So, I don’t know in this moment who will be available. My last information was that the boys who played the other night, they are all fine.” He continued by saying that “they are OK and the rest, we will see.”
Chris Wilder is without the services of Jack O’Connell this weekend, who suffered a knee injury earlier this season. The seriousness of his injury suggests he could be out for a lengthy period. Jack Robinson has replaced him in defence and is expected to start at the back again this weekend.
Elsewhere, John Fleck is edging closer to a return as he is currently sidelined with a back injury. The club say he could feature, at the earliest, around the end of November.
In attack, Lys Mousset is still out with a toe injury. The striker who was so influential last year is expected to return around mid-December.
Predicted Starting XIs
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Lundstram, Stevens; Brewster, McGoldrick.
Score Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Sheffield United
When Liverpool play at home they are often unstoppable. Their front three have yet to get firing properly this season, but this weekend presents as a good opportunity to do so. The Blades have looked short of confidence and weak in attack thus, even in the absence of van Dijk, scoring away at Anfield may be tough. Liverpool should take this as an opportunity to ‘right their wrongs’ from their previous two games and get back to winning ways this Saturday.