Thursday, December 3, 2020

Prediction: Liverpool vs Sheffield United

Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

Best odds: 13/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Liverpool are set to play host to Sheffield United in the 6th round of the 2020/21 Premier League season on Saturday evening, in a game in which both teams will be seeking to turn their recent fortunes around.

Liverpool

Having won the title in 2019/20, the Merseysiders started this campaign with a very good, but perhaps too short, run. They beat league newcomers Leeds United in the opening round at home by 4-3, then added a 0-2 triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and 3-1 at home against Arsenal. The Gunners got some revenge, though, by knocking them out of the Carabao Cup on penalties three days after the league clash, and then disaster struck. It’s still difficult to explain what happened to Jurgen Klopp’s team as they fell to a 7-2 defeat away to Aston Villa, and they failed to beat Everton in the Merseyside Derby last week after putting in a better performance than their Blue neighbours at Goodison Park. More importantly, they lost the services of defender Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season in that match.

These results have Liverpool sitting in third place at the moment with 10 points, behind the two teams they’ve failed to beat – Everton on 13 and Aston Villa on 12.

The mood of the team will have been improved somewhat after their successful Champions League opener in Amsterdam, from which they walked away with a 0-1 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

Team News

Speaking to the press ahead of the game, Klopp only ruled out two players apart from Van Dijk – midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, also a long-term absentee, and left-back Kostas Tsimikas who should be back in action soon.

Midfielder Thiago Alcantara was also injured against Everton and missed the Amsterdam trip, goalkeeper Alisson Becker has been missing for a while, and defender Joel Matip suffered a minor injury recently, but their involvement against Sheffield isn’t yet ruled out.

Midfielder Fabinho was called upon to step into the back line with Joe Gomez against Ajax and he produced a great performance, and it is likely that he’ll fill the role once more if Matip isn’t ready by Saturday.

Sheffield United

Like Liverpool, the Blades had a very successful previous season after securing promotion from the Championship. For a long time during the campaign, it looked as though they might even secure a place in a European competition, but it was not to be. In the end, they finished in ninth place, four points off top six. Some even suggested that the work Chris Wilder did with Sheffield United was more impressive than Klopp’s with Liverpool, though the German was the one to walk away with the Manager of the Year award.

This term, however, it’s been a different story so far. Sheffield lost the opening four games of the season; 0-2 at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers, 1-0 away to Aston Villa, 0-1 at home to Leeds and 2-1 away to Arsenal. The only point they’ve managed to earn so far came from a 1-1 draw at home against the struggling Fulham. Therefore, they share the bottom three places in the table with the Cottagers and Burnley at the moment.

And just like Liverpool, Wilder’s team have ended their involvement in the Carabao Cup through a defeat on penalties, albeit against Burnley.

Team News

Another similarity between the situations the two teams are in at the moment is that the Blades will be without an important player in the heart of defence for the rest of the season too. Centre-back Jack O’Connell is also set for a surgery on his knee, like Van Dijk. Midfielder John Fleck and striker Lys Mousset are both out as well, as is probably defender Max Lowe after suffering a concussion after only 19 minutes of his Premier League debut against Fulham.

It will be interesting to see if Wilder is counting on Rhian Brewster for this game. The 20-year-old striker left Liverpool to join Sheffield United this summer on a permanent basis, and with the Reds having the buy-back option inserted into the deal, he might be highly motivated to prove a point at Anfield.

Conclusion

Liverpool are, of course, the absolute favourites to win this match whatever team Klopp names for it. Much else will, however, depend on it, but Mohamed Salah is certain to start and very likely to get his name on the scoresheet.

Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

Best odds: 13/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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