Sheffield United travel to Anfield on Saturday night looking to pick up their first points away from home this season.
The Blades will be hoping to build on their first point of the campaign, picked up last week against Fulham although this will no doubt be a much sterner test against reigning Champions, Liverpool.
Blades boss, Chris Wilder will be hoping his side can deliver a strong performance not only to get some points on the board but more widely to give their supporters something to cheer on a day when people are going to need exactly that. The Blades know that nothing short of 110% will be required if they are going to get something from the game, such is the strength and quality of their opponents.
It’s been a difficult week for Liverpool as well, suffering heartache at the hands of VAR in last weekend’s Merseyside derby – a feeling Sheffield United fans will be all too familiar with. However, Jürgen Klopp will be buoyed by his team’s response in midweek as they dispatched a tricky Ajax outfit on Wednesday night in Amsterdam.
Both sides have suffered devastating injuries to the left side of their defence. One of several stories that dominated headlines throughout the week has been the season-ending injury to Liverpool’s defensive rock, Virgil van Dijk. The blow was no doubt eased somewhat for Klopp after seeing Gomez perform so impressively in his stead on Wednesday night, aided in no small part by the terrific Fabinho who has dropped back to provide centre half cover.
The Blades meanwhile will have to cope without their very own Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season as Wilder confirmed that Jack O’Connell will miss the remainder of the campaign. O’Connell has suffered from injuries since Project Restart and United have found it difficult to replace both the solid defending and buccaneering runs that form a huge part of how the Blades play. Jack Robinson has deputised admirably but is not able to provide the same attacking thrust that O’Connell excels at – the problem Wilder will look to solve as sooner rather than later.
Elsewhere, Lys Mousset is still a couple of months away from returning to full training and John Fleck is out for a month. For Liverpool, their only other long-term injury is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is still some way off of first-team training whilst new signing Kostas Tsimikas is also a doubt for Saturday’s game. There is positive news for the Reds, however, as Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Thiago, who all picked up injuries against Everton, could be fit to start.
Last season’s meetings between these sides could not have been more different. In September, United proved to be Liverpool’s toughest test in the first few months of their title-winning campaign. Stevens and Baldock were aggressive in shutting down Liverpool’s creative full-backs, the three centre-halves dealt stifled their front three and the Blades were a constant threat on the break. But for a calamitous error from Dean Henderson for Wijnaldum’s goal, Wilder’s men would have deservedly got something from the game.
Fast-forward a few months to January and Liverpool seemed to have learnt their Sheffield United lessons and proceeded to dominate the game from start to finish, running out 2-0 winners – a scoreline that flattered the Blades. Wilder was quick to praise Klopp’s men after the match, hailing them as not only the best team but also the hardest-working team his side have come up against. The gauntlet was thrown down to his players and they’ll look to respond on Saturday night.
Liverpool have won their last three Premier League games against United, without conceding a goal.
Salah and Mané have scored 10 of Liverpool’s 13 goals in the league this season.
The Blades are the only Premier League side yet to take the lead in a game so far this campaign.
One to Watch
For Blades fans, they will be looking to usual leading lights, John Egan, Sander Berge, George Baldock and Enda Stevens to shine again on Saturday evening whilst for Liverpool there the usual suspects in Mo Salah, Sadio Mané, Trent Alexander-Arnold and new signing Thiago who are good enough to take the game away from any team. However, one former Liverpool talent who has made the switch to Bramall Lane is one to surely keep an eye on. Rhian Brewster joined the Blades for a club-record fee this summer and no one will be keener than the England U21 international to perform against his old side. Wilder has hinted at giving Brewster his full debut this weekend, with the young starlet’s ability to score a goal out of nothing something that the Blades will be hoping to count on come Saturday.
For the second week in a row, Sheffield United are one of the pay-per-view matches during the weekend. The game kicks off at 8 pm on Saturday and is shown on Sky Sports Box Office.