Curtis Jones puts in a Man of the Match performance as Liverpool get back on track with a 2-0 away win over Sheffield United.
Liverpool finally return to winning ways thanks to a convincing 2-0 triumph over bottom club Sheffield United on Sunday. It was a much-needed win for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who put an end to a four-game losing streak and secured vital three points at Bramall Lane.
The Reds deserved the win as well, having been the better side throughout the course of the game. They dominated the possession and looked rather silky going forward, although the breakthrough eluded them throughout the first half.
The visitors did eventually find the back of the net minutes into the second half, thanks to a rather easy goal for Curtis Jones. It was a bit unfortunate from Sheffield United’s perspective, but the Blades do deserve criticism for their shoddy offensive play, with none of the strikers in David McGoldrick, Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke managing to take good care of their opportunities.
They were duly punished as well, with Roberto Firmino finding the back of the net in the 64th minute. The goal was later deemed as own goal by Kean Bryan as the Brazilian’s shot was off-target. Nevertheless, it sealed the three points for the Reds and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at how their players fared in this vital win this weekend.
Liverpool will be extremely happy as Adrian were barely tested by the Sheffield United attackers, much to their own futility. Although the Spaniard didn’t make any errors as such, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him getting beaten if the Blades had appeared a little more effective in the final third.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold started the game in a conservative role, staying back and trying to aid the centre-backs. However, he eventually imposed his presence going forward as the game progressed. Had a huge part to play in the opening goal, and barely put a foot wrong in the defensive department. A solid display by the full-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s game by numbers vs. Sheffield United:
89 passes attempted
65 passes completed
21 final third passes
14 ball recoveries
3 chances created
2 crosses completed
2 tackles won
2 fouls won
Much more like it. 💪 pic.twitter.com/uaENHFB75m
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 28, 2021
Ozan Kabak: 6.5/10
Ozan Kabak had a mixed game, for the most part, looking nervy on a couple of occasions. The on-loan Schalke defender did make some good tackles as well, notably, the one that neutralised an excellent opportunity for Oli McBurnie, but it was him who allowed the forward to pick out a great run in behind. Still has room for improvement.
Nat Phillips: 6/10
It was one of those performances from Nat Phillips, where the young defender may have crumbled under a bit more pressure. He got beaten way too easily on one occasion while looking nervy during defensive phases, so Jurgen Klopp will still be banking on the return of Fabinho in the coming days.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Andrew Robertson looked bright right from the beginning. He looked expressive going forward, providing a plethora of crosses into the box as Liverpool sort of opted for a left-sided overload during the early stages of the game. The Scot was, in fact, rather unlucky not to register an assist as luck simply wasn’t with Liverpool going forward.
Thiago Alcantara: 7.5/10
Thiago Alcantara vs. Sheff. Utd
88% Pass accuracy
4/5 Accurate long passes
2 Chances created
5/8 Ground duels won
1/2 Aerial duels won pic.twitter.com/HWBd0bGyYz
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) February 28, 2021
Thiago Alcantara had a good game in the middle of the park. He orchestrated possession, showcasing excellent awareness and providing assurance in Liverpool’s approach play. Didn’t make any mistakes either, making it difficult for Sheffield United to create any kind of turnovers. He was taken off during the final phase of the game.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7.5/10
Georginio Wijnaldum looked solid in the number six/number eight hybrid role. He covered a lot of ground, staying deep or moving forward depending on the situation of the game. The Dutchman also offered excellent ball-progression that helped Liverpool evade Sheffield United’s second line of press.
Curtis Jones: 8.5/10
Curtis Jones' game by numbers vs. Sheffield United:
27 passes attempted
26 passes completed
3 shots on target
Such an exciting talent. ✨ pic.twitter.com/xUzvUETLv5
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 28, 2021
Curtis Jones put in a great shift for Liverpool in the number eight position. His box to box qualities helped his team become more unpredictable in their approach play, with the youngster himself providing a series of useful forward passes. Capped off a good display by scoring the all-important opening goal early in the second half.
Mohamed Salah: 7.5/10
Mohamed Salah looked lively right from the beginning, trying to make things happen in the final third with his movements and dynamism. The Egyptian was a little unlucky to not find the back of the net, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless – one that should serve as a promising sign for Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino: 7.5/10
Did miss one golden chance in the first-half, in which he exhibited poor decision making, but made amends with a good second-half display.
What did Firmino do next? [4 Marks] pic.twitter.com/u6vUH4YA42
— Dillon ॐ (@DilTee_) February 28, 2021
Indeed, Roberto Firmino looked industrious in the number nine role, often looking to create chances for his teammates. His movements were impressive as well, with the Brazilian making that brilliant hit that led to the second goal. Although his effort was off-target, it signified the willingness to find the back of the net.
Sadio Mane: 7.5/10
Sadio Mane also had an unlucky game in the final third, notably getting his goal chalked due to offside. The Liverpool winger put in a good effort in the final third, with his industry and pace proving too much for the Sheffield United backline. He will be disappointed to have failed to find the back of the net, though.
James Milner: 6.5/10
James Milner returned to the pitch during the final phase of the game, replacing Thiago. Kept things neat and tidy as Liverpool held on to their two-goal cushion.
Naby Keita: N/A
A late replacement for Jones. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.