Sheffield United will be searching for their first win of the season as they travel to Merseyside to take on defending champions Liverpool.
The games continue to come hard and fast in the Premier League as defending champions Liverpool get ready to host 19th placed Sheffield United at Anfield in gameweek 6. Liverpool have been surprisingly frail at the onset of their 2020/21 Premier League campaign, one in which they will be eager to defend the PL crown.
However, The Reds are currently 4th on the table, having lost one and drawn one. That defeat, though, came in the most remarkable manner as Aston Villa hit seven past them at Villa Park. Stemming from that, they then drew at home against Everton, who sit top of the table.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, are yet to register a single win in their 2020/21 season. The Blades have, in fact, lost four games and drawn just one – the recent encounter vs Fulham. They have managed to make no waves so far in the season, and the game could not have come at a worse time for Chris Wilder’s side.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 2-0 win for Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane on target for the hosts. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp was dealt with the worse blow of his managerial career at Liverpool against Everton as they lost Virgil van Dijk to a knee injury. It only got worse when it was confirmed to be an ASL tear, and then rumoured to be even worse.
The Dutchman is expected to spend nearly a year on the sidelines, and miss the European Championship. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alisson are still out, while Joel Matip and Naby Keita will undergo tests to determine their involvement.
Re: Van Dijk.
Mechanism of injury reminded me of the Ben Mee tackle on Wesley.
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) October 21, 2020
Klopp will line his side up in his typical 4-3-3 formation, with Adrian continuing in goal. In front of him, Joe Gomez and Fabinho are expected to pair up in central defence, with Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold being the two full-backs. Liverpool fans will be hoping to see Fabinho mirror his performance against Ajax, especially since he has the behemoth task of replacing van Dijk in the back-four.
Up ahead in midfield, the onus will be on Thiago Alcantara to keep things tight in front of the backline as the screening midfielder in the triumvirate and restrict the flow of the Sheffield United moves. In wide positions, Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson will be the players in charge of joining the attack most often.
As for the front-three, Roberto Firmino will partner up with his usual mainstays Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the final third, with the duo aiming to put the Sheffield defence under pressure on Saturday. Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamuno will be the backup options on the bench, as far as the attack is concerned.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Thiago, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Much like his counterpart in the Liverpool dugout, Chris Wilder has a few key players unavailable ahead of the trip to Anfield. On Saturday, the Sheffield United manager will be bereft of the services of three first-team players, in the form of Lys Mousset, John Fleck and Jack O’Connell. All three of them are sidelined indefinitely.
With O’Connell still unavailable, Enda Stevens ought to start as the left-wingback in the back five, while George Baldock will be deployed on the left flank. At the heart of the Sheffield United defence, there is no looking past Jack Robinson, John Egan, and Chris Basham. In goal, Aaron Ramsdale, who has been the only standout performer in defence, is the automatic pick.
In midfield, with their best midfielder John Fleck out on the sidelines, Wilder will call up an unchanged trio from the game against Fulham. Oliver Norwood will start in the holding midfield role, while Sander Berge and John Lundstram occupy positions to his right and left respectively. Berge will be tasked with the creative duties in this setup.
Finally, in the attack, David McGoldrick will start the game over Billy Sharp, partnering Rhian Brewster to form the strike partnership. Sheffield are starving for goals and will hope Brewster is able to aid them in that department.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Lundstram, Stevens; Brewster, McGoldrick
- Liverpool have won their last three Premier League games against Sheffield United without conceding a single goal, winning by an aggregate score of 3-0 last season. In fact, Sheffield United have lost 19 of their last 23 away top-flight matches against Liverpool (W3 D1) with their last win at Anfield coming back in April 1994.
- Since having their league title win confirmed last season, Liverpool have conceded 25 goals in 12 Premier League games, more than any other side in the league. It took them a full season – 38 games, to concede their previous 25 goals.
- Liverpool have not failed to win three consecutive Premier League games since May 2018 (D2 L1), with the Reds currently winless in their last two in the competition (D1 L1).
- Despite their shaky away form, the Reds are unbeaten in their last 61 Premier League home games, winning 27 of their last 28 at Anfield. They have netted 162 goals in these 61 games (2.7 per game) while conceding just 40 in return (0.7 per game).
- Sheffield United have lost 16 of their last 17 away league matches against the reigning top-flight champion, winning the other 1-0 way back in 1971-72 at Highbury against Arsenal.
1. Liverpool Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.83
1. Asian Handicap – Sheffield United +1 @ 3.450
2. Rhian Brewster to score anytime @ 4.50
Player to Watch
There is no looking past Mohamed Salah when he takes on the pitch for Liverpool, especially at Anfield. The Egyptian has registered a phenomenal scoring rate this season as well, scoring six goals in five games, boasting of a strike rate of a goal every 75 minutes.
With Van Dijk out for a very long time, the responsibility of the defence falls on the shoulders of Fabinho. Still, Salah needs to match that with his scoring rate to maintain a high level for Liverpool who have become one of Europe’s biggest sides in the past three years. Tomorrow, he will be taking on Sheffield United for the third time in his career, hoping to extend his incredible run in the league.
Liverpool 3-0 Sheffield United
Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield since 2017 when Crystal Palace brought former Red Christian Benteke back to haunt them. However, since then, the record is sparkling clean, as Jurgen Klopp has made the Liverpool home a fortress. This record is not going to break anytime soon, especially not against Sheffield United, who sit 19th in the league, still searching for their first win of the season.