Liverpool restored their 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over visitors to Anfield, Sheffield United.
Naby Keita was originally chosen by Jurgen Klopp to start while Lallana and Milner were on the substitution bench, changing the midfield up a bit. HOWEVER what could not have been foreseen no matter how much tactical planning you do, was that Naby Keita would injure himself accidentally in the pre-match warm-up, forcing the manager to choose James Milner as replacement, slotting him straight into the starting line-up.
Sheffield United – like Wolves, who we played and defeated recently – are within realistic distance of 5th place qualification into the Europa League. They never really looked like taking any points from Liverpool at Anfield but the rest of the season could go better for them and they might just end up in the top 5 by the end of the season.
It was only four minutes after kick-off, when the hosts at Anfield had the lead.
Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson was kept busy for much of the game and it got a little confusing when even our captain (Jordan) Henderson started making shots and the commentators have to talk about Henderson doing amazing as Henderson tries to beat Henderson but Henderson was too good for Henderson.
This wasn’t to be a 1 man show as multiple Liverpool players linked well all the way from the back as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk and Robertson all pumped up much needed assistance regularly and further up the pitch Mané and Salah both worked well with each other to created dangerous situations that the Sheffield United defence just couldn’t handle.
On rare occasion, Sheffield United looked maybe like equalising as they got a couple chances that forced Allison into making a save or a defender in front of our goalkeeper to clear away the danger. By the way, having Joe Gomez at the back certainly has a positive effect on our results and we seem to be accruing more and more clean sheets while he’s been a major part of the Liverpool side.
No offence to Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip who I have given serious credit, praise and Man of the Match awards to previously, but a solid defence that stops any goals conceded during a time when we’re chasing our 1st League title to be won in 30 years is pretty important. I’d be happy to see more and more of Joe Gomez at the back.
Liverpool still looked like they were looking to stop Sheffield United from causing late drama with even a potential 1-1 draw that would steal 2 points from us so a 2nd goal was something our team worked towards trying to claim.
In the 64th minute, Alisson threw out a huge ball to start Liverpool away on a devastating attack which ended with Mané playing a one-two with Salah to get through on goal where he smashed home a rebounded ball into the roof of the net after Dean Henderson had saved his initial effort. Liverpool 2-0 Sheffield United.
This was the clear lead that Liverpool needed to be confident that even with a half hour left to play (including extra time), we would claim all three points in a season where as little as 13 more wins (from 18 fixtures) will secure us as Premier League Champions.
Say what you like about the rival teams chasing us, but Liverpool just don’t look like they’d go on any kind of consecutive run of defeats that would close the gap between 1st and 2nd place. In fact, the only fixtures we’d surely have a chance of NOT winning or perhaps even drawing are the ones against top 4 sides such as Leicester, Manchester City and Chelsea. Mathematically, we could even afford to lose 3 fixtures against those 3 sides and still NOT have given up our 1st placed position after losing 9 points to them. Not that we’ll TRY to lose but it’s good to have a “safety net” that allows you to perhaps suffer an unfortunate result to top 4 teams while still leading the chase for the Premier League title.
Outside of these top 4 sides, we can be confident of win after win after win against sides who are looking like being a contender for Europa League qualification (5th place) to those all the way down in the relegation battle zone, fighting to stay in the Premier League by the end of the season.
Man of the Match
Sadio Mané scores for Liverpool at Anfield
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)
Remember the days when Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez were both competing with each other to be both Liverpool’s and the Premier League’s highest goalscorer? Well, Salah and Mané are competing with each other now. Some rival fans say that they aren’t the best of partners but I do see some incredible teamwork and unselfish assistance between the two more regularly than their critics. For anyone who doesn’t watch game after game that Liverpool play (and then that 1 away side fan starts acting like they KNOW the players relationship with each other as their side comes to play Liverpool once or twice a season), these two are quite well paired together. They’ve learned to know where the other is and what they’ll be doing to allow dangerous play where the defence won’t know WHO to mark. Either could end up scoring. Unstoppable together.
Sadio Mané has scored 25 Premier League goals at Anfield since the start of last season – across the top five European leagues, the only two players with more goals at a single specific stadium are Lionel Messi (29 at the Camp Nou) and Kylian Mbappé (27 at the Parc des Princes). HOME CROWD PLEASER!
Liverpool play Everton in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, so be sure to watch on January 5th from 4PM (GMT). Let’s hope to knock our Merseyside rivals out of the Cup then as we aim to progress in yet another competition we haven’t won this season… yet.
Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s
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