Liverpool were made to work hard for all three points against Sheffield United, with a Dean Henderson error gifting them a 1-0 win on Saturday.
Chances came few and far between in a dull first half, as Sheffield United got men in behind the ball to deny Liverpool any space to work with. In fact, it was Chris Wilder’s men who conjured up any meaningful chances in the first quarter of the game, with Oliver Norwood coming close for the hosts.
Liverpool, though, should have grabbed the lead heading into half-time, with Sadio Mane squandering two great openings. Post the interval, the Reds were robbed of a clear penalty, when Mane was brought down by John Lundstram in the Sheffield United box, only for VAR to not rule in the Premier League leaders’ favour.
On the opposite end, the Blades continued to pose a huge threat, taking the game to Liverpool. But, just when it looked like they could perhaps, spring a surprise, the visitors broke the deadlock, albeit in a fortuitous manner, as Dean Henderson failed to collect Georginio Wijnaldum’s shot, with the ball subsequently slipping through his legs.
With the lead in the bag, Liverpool produced a professional display to see out the game and continue their perfect start to the season. The Reds have now extended their club-record Premier League winning run to 16 games and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
A quiet outing for the most part for Adrian, who had more work to do with his feet than with his gloves. But, the one occasion when he was called into action, the Spaniard made no error in dealing with a tricky shot by Oliver Norwood that landed just in front of him. Distributed the ball smartly as well, as continues to grow in the side.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
A difficult day at work for Alexander-Arnold, who was sloppy with the ball at his feet and struggled to create little of note. At the back, the Englishman was constantly suspect, leaving a lot of space in behind him for Enda Stevens and John Fleck to exploit.
Joel Matip: 6/10
One of the more consistent players for Liverpool this season, Matip was rather uncomfortable at the back against Sheffield United. The imposing presence of Ollie McBurnie left him in a spot of bother, following an early clearance when up against the Sheffield United number 9. His quest to charge into midfield left acres of space behind on the odd occasion, which Fleck, in particular, exploited.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
A performance of colossal proportions by van Dijk, who was quite easily Liverpool’s best player on the day. Oftentimes, van Dijk had to make up for a lapse by one his fellow defenders and the numbers show just how good he was on the day.
Virgil van Dijk vs Sheffield United:
✅ 7 clearances
✅ 1 shot blocked
✅ 1 interception
✅12 aerial duels won
✅12 accurate long balls
✅1 big chance created
— TheKop.com (@TheKop_com) September 28, 2019
Over the course of the game, van Dijk made a game-high 7 clearances whilst winning a staggering 12 aerial duels against a side that prides on its prowess in the air. The Dutchman even completed 12 of the 16 long balls he attempted, one of which created one of the best chances of the game for Liverpool, only to see Sadio Mane miss out.
Andrew Robertson: 6.5/10
It has been an odd start to the season for Robertson, who has blown hot and cold so far. Saturday’s display exemplified the same as the Scot struggled to impact the game going forward and was rather wasteful in possession.
But, he was perhaps, the biggest reason why Liverpool managed to just about win the game, as two top class blocks denied John Lundstram and Fleck either side of half-time. Strong at the back but he can do much more in the final third.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
A tough afternoon for the Liverpool captain, whose limitations on the ball were exposed against Sheffield United. Henderson just could not manage to get past the hosts’ low block, with even his trademark first-time passes proving to be ineffective. Typically worked hard off the ball, but that was not enough on the day.
Liverpool’s Mr. Dependable had a busy outing against Sheffield United, whose second half onslaught kept the Brazilian on his toes. But, as is usually the case, Fabinho stuck to his guns, although he was caught out on the odd occasion as well. Tidy on the ball, but his passes did not have as much incision as he does on a regular day.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
A forgettable outing for the most part for Wijnaldum, who just could not managed to influence the proceedings and saw the game almost pass him by. That was until the 70th minute, when his fierce, but straight, shot was spilled by Dean Henderson to give Liverpool the lead. A goal counts, though, and he would take such a strike any day following such a difficult game.
Mohamed Salah: 5.5/10
For much of the match, Salah carried the biggest threat for Liverpool. But, that does not really say much as bar one or two instances, he did not really manage to come into the game. Had one of the biggest openings of the game coming his way, but his poor shot, coupled with a fine stop by Henderson, added to his frustrations.
Roberto Firmino: 5.5/10
It is games of such sorts, as the one on Saturday, where Firmino shines the brightest as he had done against a stubborn Newcastle United earlier this month. But, the usually reliable tactics of dropping down to confuse the opponent did not quite work in his favour this time around, as Sheffield United remained supremely disciplined all throughout.
Still, he could have had a clever assist when he laid the ball for Mane to finish from point-blank range, only to see the Senegalese strike the post. A rare blip for the immaculate Brazilian.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
A game to forget for Mane, who had two of Liverpool’s best chances of the game coming his way on the day. But, he was rather wasteful with each of those opportunities and should have given his side the lead much before they broke the deadlock in the 70th minute. Inexplicably robbed of a penalty when Lundstram brought him down in the Sheffield United box. Just one of those days.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Given the final half-an-hour to change the tide of the game, this was Origi’s opportunity to make a mark. But, the Belgian, on his return from injury, just could not manage to alter the course of the proceedings, even though he was lively for much of his stay on the pitch.
James Milner: N/A
On for Firmino, Milner helped see the game out in the final 5-6 minutes.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: N/A
A late substitution, Oxlade-Chamberlain did not have any time to make an impact.