It has been the template for this derisory 2020/21 season – one step forward, two emphatically backwards. After the win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League, you could forgive Reds fans for feeling a tad more positive about their club – but such feelings were extinguished in dramatic fashion by the 0-2 defeat to Everton in the Merseyside derby last weekend.
Forget the result, it was the performance – lacking in quality and vitality once more – that was the most alarming thing, and while Liverpool weren’t without opportunities, and it was telling that Everton defender Michael Keane was man of the match, this was another game where they were ultimately found lacking.
Of course, it doesn’t help when you go 0-1 down after just three minutes, as Liverpool did when Richarlison burst clear to fire home, and the Toffees arguably should have doubled their lead when Seamus Coleman headed straight at Alisson.
The second half was much more like the Liverpool we have come to know, and Sadio Mane and Mo Salah could have found the net with decent chances.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda….Gylfi Sigurdsson fired home a late penalty after Trent Alexander-Arnold brought down Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and that was that. Local bragging rights lost, there’s real concern about that top four now and whether the Reds can right themselves before the end of the campaign.
“It is [tough to take] but we conceded this early goal which was completely unnecessary and have to defend it better,” Jurgen Klopp said afterwards. “We had to chase the game and did it well creative-wise. We created some chances in the first half and even more in the second half, but we did not finish our situations off.
“We made one mistake in the first half and they used it.”
To make matters worse, Jordan Henderson hobbled off in the first half, and the groin injury he suffered could keep him out for as long as ten weeks – another defensive player on the sidelines.
With three games in seven days, Henderson’s absence could not have come at a worse time. First up in that schedule are Sheffield United on Sunday.
Liverpool Team News
Let’s consider the number of defenders that are now on the treatment table. Henderson, he won’t be seen for a while, and Fabinho’s return date remains something of a mystery – he is targeting a return against the Blades, but he is not yet back in full contact training.
Factor in Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez and, well, you know the rest.
There is some good news to report. Diogo Jota is back in light training, Naby Keita was on the substitutes bench against Everton and Kostas Tsimikas is back as well, so at least bodies are returning to fitness albeit in well stocked areas.
The other sad news is attached to Alisson, whose father passed away this week. It has been a season packed with personal tragedy, and it remains to be seen if the Brazilian will feature against Sheffield United or be given some compassionate leave – Caomhim Kelleher will be on standby.
Finding the right balance, with so many games upcoming, will be crucial, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if fresh blood was fielded on Sunday.
Sheffield United Form
Fighting for their lives at the foot of the Premier League table, it’s getting close to now or never time for Sheffield United.
The idea of points accumulation has gone; they simply have to start winning games, and yet you suspect that Chris Wilder won’t deviate from his base philosophies.
The issue is that they are not scoring goals, which is a bit of a scupper when you need to be winning games, although they have at least netted once or more in their prior four games at Bramall Lane.
Whether you’re glass half full – the Blades have won three of their last eight, or half empty – they’ve also lost five of their last eight, dictates whether you think the Yorkshiremen go into this game with any confidence or not.
Sheffield United vs Liverpool Betting Tips
If we were analysing this match a year or even six months ago the outcome would be a no brainer – Liverpool with a -1 goal handicap would have been an auto bet.
Now though….well, nothing is easy for the Reds, is it?
You suspect Sheffield United will fancy the job, and they have netted against the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham of late, so they are finding their way against elite opposition.
And so we’re minded to place a Both Teams to Score wager at odds of 10/11, and if you want to extend the idea further there’s Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals at 6/5.