Liverpool (H) | Pre-Match Review
Sheffield United vs Liverpool 28/09/2019
English Premier League
After taking care of the blue half of Liverpool, can Chris Wilders' team take care of the red half? Probably not.
Last Time Out
Liverpool 4 (Fowler 20 Pen, 25 Pen, Hyypia 70, Gerrard 73) - 0 Sheffield United - 24/02/2007
One to forget for the Blades’ with Steven Gerrard rounding up a hat-trick of penalties won for his side against Sheffield United that season. The first penalty being the heavily disputed one - "intended to foul Gerrard" - at Bramall Lane, clinching a draw for Liverpool very late on. There was little to dispute about the ones given at Anfield.
There weren’t many chances for Warnock’s side, aside from Rob Hulse hitting the crossbar from close range.
Liverpool had just beaten Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp days before (Craig Bellamy did his infamous ‘Golf Swing’ celebration that night) and Rafa Benitez had made seven changes to reflect this. One of these was giving a debut to Javier Mascherano who was signed from West Ham in the January transfer window and one of the characters in the drawn out and tedious ‘Carlos Tevez affair' starring Kia Joorabchian. Some player though, mind you.
At the time, the Blades wouldn’t have been too concerned with the result, they were 8 points clear of the relegation places with 10 games to go in 16th position, obviously, they would then go on to be relegated by 1 goal by the end of the campaign.
Summer at Liverpool
Notable Ins: Sepp Van Der Berg (£1.3m, PEC Zwolle), Harvey Elliott (Undisclosed, Fulham), Adrian (Free, West Ham United), Andy Lonergan (Free Agent)
Notable Outs: Danny Ings (£18m, Southampton), Ryan Kent (£6.4m, Rangers), Simon Mignolet (£6.4m, Club Brugge), Rafael Camacho (£5m, Sporting CP), Bobby Duncan (£1.8m, Fiorentina), Alberto Moreno (Free, Villareal), Daniel Sturridge (Free, Trabzonspor), Harry Wilson (Loan, AFC Bournemouth), Sheyi Ojo (Loan, Rangers), Marko Grujic (Loan, Hertha BSC), Ben Woodburn (Loan, Oxford United)
A relatively quiet Summer for the Reds, after June’s triumph in Madrid. The club as a collective will have decided not to have bought players for the sake of it. You could argue that they could have done with a back-up forward and a creative midfielder and I’m sure some fans of the club would agree.
owever, Klopp would like to be giving more minutes to the promising young forward Rhian Brewster who surely would have had more minutes already if it weren't for an injury hampered 18 months. Furthermore, Divock Origi has proven to be a decent backup after his heroics last season.
Their hand was somewhat forced with the injury Allison picked up in their opening fixture against Norwich and Simon Mignolet going back to his native Belgium. Adrian has come in on a free transfer and the Brazillian stopper’s absence has not been felt so far and made some impressive saves in both fixtures against Chelsea in the Super Cup and Premier League.
Harry Wilson could have been one of those players who may have been able to step into the first team when required, it does appear that going on loan to Bournemouth will suit his development more at this period.
How have Liverpool started the season?
By winning all 6 of their league games so far. So quite well?
They have fallen to defeat in the Champions League away to Napoli. However, the penalty was a fairly dubious decision and their second was down to a rare mistake from Virgil Van Dijk. Kalidou Koulibaly was a stand out performer for Napoli that evening, managing to stifle Liverpool’s front 3.
Chelsea did threaten Liverpool’s league winning streak in the final 20 minutes of the game after N’Golo Kante pulled it back to 2-1, but the Reds were able to see the game out.
I don’t think we’ve seen the best Liverpool yet, over the past couple of seasons we’ve seen Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool not blow teams away as much as usual, in what is our toughest fixture so far. I hope we see a performance akin to one in Naples.
“Jurgen is a manager I can look up to, 100 percent. There are all sorts of different aspects in successful managers but I love his connection with his players. There’s a genuine affection from him for them, and vice versa as well.” - On Jurgen Klopp
“We are playing them on a level playing field in the Premier League and we deserve to be here. Of course there’s enormous gaps between both clubs at the moment and we’re trying to make that gap a little bit closer.
I don’t want Liverpool to come here into our backyard and go, ‘well, thanks very much that’s the easiest three points we’ve picked up all season’. If they do win, I want it to be over our dead bodies.” - On facing Liverpool
"It is incredible what he is doing. I am looking forward to meeting him - it will be the first time. His team is really interesting.
What they do, they do really well. They are aggressive, good pressing and then when they have the ball it is an interesting pattern when the centre-halves overlap.
I've been in England for four years so I don't know everything historically but they are a big club and deserve to be in this league. For sure, a really great coach. Looking forward to facing his team." - On facing Chris Wilder and Sheffield United
Opposition Style of Play
I’m sure that by now everyone is aware of Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’, a tactic where the goal is to win the ball back as soon as possible.
It is a system which originated in the USSR and the Netherlands in the 60s and was a tactic also used by British and Scandanavian sides in the 80s, back then it would have just been called ‘closing down’. Klopp will have adopted the idea and developed it from Wolfgang Frank, his manager at Mainz who also made the back 4 more commonplace in Germany, most sides were still playing 3 at the back during that time.
You might say that it is a form of organised chaos, a player who has just received the ball is at his most vulnerable as he may be trying to get the ball under his control. Winning the ball back high up the pitch can cause the opposition to panic, it can also be used to cut off the passing lanes, giving the side an ability to control the spaces on the pitch.
Klopp’s Liverpool aren’t as frenetic as his Dortmund side of the past or even in his first couple of seasons on Merseyside. It appears to be more refined and composed, this could be down to the need to keep energy in reserve these days due to how athletic the game has become and the sheer number of fixtures teams have to play.
Liverpool play a 4-3-3, set up to feed the dangerous front 3 of Mane, Salah and Firmino. Their full-backs are dynamic and can deliver dangerous balls and their midfield 3 is full of energy, with Henderson and Wijnaldum playing as the 2 ‘shuttlers’ in front of a sitting Fabinho.
Could be a very long afternoon, a fairly optimistic 3-1.
Over 1.5 goals, 3+ Sheffield Utd corners, 5+ Liverpool corners and 10+ booking points each team at 2/1 (SkyBet); John Lundstram to be carded at 5/1 (SkyBet)
With both sides making wholesale changes in the Carabao cup midweek, both teams will probably play a full-strength side. I think Mousset has to play up front alongside McBurnie, with McGoldrick being inured, Sharp being suspended and Robinson being something of a disappointment so far, despite his goal at Chelsea.