Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Thursday, January 2nd @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 2/9, Draw 21/4, Sheffield United 10/1
European champions, World champions, Premier League champions-elect? It’s looking increasingly likely. However, after a 30-year wait, there is not a single Liverpool fan who considers this title a foregone conclusion. One thing is for sure. We haven’t seen a team like this before and we will rarely see it again. Don’t let it pass you by. Enjoy every moment of this red dream.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool battled hard to take all three points against Wolves at Anfield last weekend. The Reds have now won 18 and drawn one of their 19 league games, establishing a 13-point lead over Leicester City at the top with a game in hand.
As well as winning the Club World Cup title in Qatar in December, Liverpool then returned to turn in possibly the most complete performance of the Klopp era in their 4-0 victory away to Leicester City on Boxing Day. We can forgive them a slightly under-par showing against Wolves in the following game.
Sheffield United Form
Sheffield United were very unfortunate to come away from the Etihad with nothing from their clash with Manchester City on Sunday evening. Chris Wilder’s side had a higher xG rating (1.23 Vs City’s 1.09: courtesy of Understat.com). A Lys Mousset goal was disallowed for offside by VAR. Also, referee Chris Kavanagh deflected a Sheffield United clearance into City’s path allowing them to break the deadlock through Sergio Aguero – an incident which should have 100% resulted in a drop-ball due to the referee’s unintentional interference in the game.
That defeat was only The Blades’ fifth in 20 league games so far this season. Wilder’s team has the joint-second best defensive record in the league with just 19 goals conceded. Interestingly, Sunday’s loss at City was Sheffield United’s first away defeat in the Premier League in 2019/20. The newly-promoted Blades are going to prove more than just a handful for Liverpool on Thursday night.
Liverpool Team News
Nathaniel Clyne, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dejan Lovren and Xherdan Shaqiri are all out for Liverpool.
Joe Gomez has returned to top form in central defence alongside Virgil van Dijk in recent weeks so we haven’t missed Matip or Lovren.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum have been immense in Fabinho’s absence. Henderson will probably be on the bench on Thursday. He played the full game against Wolves. Wijnaldum should start at the base of the midfield with James Milner and Naby Keita ahead of him.
Jurgen Klopp knows he can rotate for the FA Cup game on Sunday so expect to see the full strength front three playing against Sheffield United.
Sheffield United Team News
Chris Wilder will be without Simon Moore while John Lundstram will face another late fitness test ahead of the trip to Anfield. Lundstram failed a fitness test before Sunday’s game at Manchester City but will be hoping to be recovered by Thursday night.
The Blades have used a very settled starting eleven this season, almost always in a 3-5-2 formation.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2) – Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Mousset, McGoldrick
When they last met
Liverpool barely got over the line when the sides met at Bramall Lane in September. Gini Wijnaldum’s 70th-minute shot was fumbled over the line by Dean Henderson, giving Liverpool a 1-0 win on the day.
The last time Sheffield United visited Anfield was in February 2007. Liverpool won 4-0 with goals from Robbie Fowler (x2 – both penalties), Sami Hyypia and Steven Gerrard.
LIVERPOOL 2 – 0 SHEFFIELD UNITED
After remaining unbeaten on their travels this season up until last Sunday, The Blades could now be looking at two away defeats on the trot. But they were landed with consecutive visits to the top two teams in the country (no offence, Leicester). Thursday’s match could be even more of a struggle for The Reds than last Sunday’s win over Wolves. Yet, with the FA Cup fixture against Everton to follow on Sunday, it seems Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after a ridiculously busy Winter schedule. I think they’ll end the hectic period with a win which, in turn, will also start the new year in the best possible way.