Reds Visit Bramall Lane
With the two-goal weekends most recent outing producing another unbelievable comeback victory, that 4-3 win (at home to Fulham) must now be shelved, as a trip to bottom of the league Sheffield United awaits the second placed Reds. Within that crazy and unpredictable game of seven goals, it unfortunately brought yet another injury for Liverpool’s German manager, Jürgen Klopp, as he saw his Cameroonian defender, Joël Matip, succumb to an injury that will likely keep him sidelined until the new year. The early Monday reports brought news that Sheffield United will also be lacking a key figure, as Paul Heckingbottom was relieved of his managerial duties. The former blades head coach, Chris Wilder, returns to the Bramall Lane dugout, as he has been appointed back into the Liverpool’s role he was dismissed from in March 2021. Klopp and Wilder infamously clashed a few years back and their dislike for one another will undoubtedly add a little spice to the encounter.
The Sheffield United Availability
In terms of availability, Chris Basham, Rhys Norrington-Davies, John Egan, Tom Davies, Daniel Jebbison, Oliver McBurnie, George Baldock, and the former red, Rhian Brewster, are all out for this game. In terms of form, this season has been an unmitigated disaster for last seasons promoted club. United’s most recent match saw them hammered 5-0 away to fellow strugglers Burnley, after a 1-3 defeat away to Bournemouth. Prior to those two losses, a surprise 1-1 was recorded away to the impressive Brighton, which was caveated by the Seagulls ten men predicament. After 14 games in the 2023/24 campaign, the relegation favourites have a mere five points, as they sit four points away from the Premier League safety point of 17th placed Luton.
A predicted line up for the home team is listed below.
GK – Wes Foderingham
RCB – Anel Ahmedhodžić
CB – Jack Robinson
LCB – Auston Trusty
RWB – Jayden Bogle
CDM – Oliver Norwood
CDM – Vinícius Souza
LWB – Yasser Larouci
RW – Bénie Traoré
CF – Cameron Archer
LW – James McAtee
In a 3-4-3 system, I suspect Cameron Archer will be moved into the central striker’s berth, with Oliver McBurnie serving a one match suspension. The strategy will be about survival for the beleaguered hosts, who will be hoping for a ‘new’ manager bounce, of sorts.
The Liverpool Availability
Klopp’s side will be delighted with their own points tally, as 14 games has seen the English giants amass 31 points. This total has the Reds one point ahead of title favourites, Manchester City, whereas table toppers, Arsenal, are two points clear. The gunners have a wet and windy trip to Kenilworth Road on Tuesday, therefore, there will be major incentive for Liverpool whatever the result.
In terms of those available, the Spanish pair of Thiago Alcântara and Stefan Bajčetić remain sidelined until late January, which is the timeline set out for Andy Robertson also. Alisson Becker is out until the visit of Manchester United on the 17th December, whilst Diogo Jota could be out until February. Joël Matip is a new member to the unavailability list, with a timeframe on his absence unclear, though unpromising.
Below is the expected line up to face Sheffield United, after Liverpool’s Sunday afternoon game against Fulham. I expect the club captain to start, though Jarell Quansah could be an option.
Kelleher has conceded 26 goals having faced 22.8xg as Liverpool’s keeper
He basically turns the opposition into Salah
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) December 3, 2023
GK – Caoimhin Kelleher
RB – Joe Gomez
RCB – Ibrahima Konaté
LCB – Virgil van Dijk (c)
LB – Kostas Tsimikas
RCM – Harvey Elliott
CDM – Wataru Endō
LCM – Curtis Jones
RF – Mohamed Salah
CF – Cody Gakpo
LF – Dominik Szoboszlai
In a 4-3-3 (hybrid) system, the Reds’ German manager will undoubtedly look to shuffle his travelling pack, with a trip to Selhurst Park upcoming for the dreaded and upcoming 12.30 Saturday lunch time slot. There could be changes than I have stated above (for Sheffield United), as it all depends upon how the players are primed to undertake this busy week of Premier League football.
How Will This Contest Play Out
Liverpool should win this game, with their recent weekend scare perhaps realigning the mindset of the squad. Quality and depth must be a defining factor, especially if the away side aspire of a silverware laden year. Cody Gakpo will come back into the team for this game and I expect him to continue his recent success in front of goal.
Player to watch – Cody Gakpo
Sheffield United 1 – 3 Liverpool