Written By: Priyasha Bhowmik (@LFCPriya11)
Liverpool took on 19th place Sheffield United at Anfield on matchday 6 of the 2020/21 Premier League season. The Reds were looking for a first PL win since Arsenal at home while Sheffield were searching for their first win of the season. The game saw the return of Rhian Brewster to L4, who was handed his first league start for Sheffield United, only not in the famous Liverpool colours he once dreamt of donning competitively.Embed from Getty Images
Ahead of the match, the Reds were handed a major boost in the shape of the return of their Brazilian shot-stopper, Alisson Becker, who made remarkable progress in his recovery as he returned much earlier than expected. Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara were still deemed to be unfit.
Diogo Jota’s recently impressive performances had clearly convinced Klopp, and he was handed his first league start. However, unwilling to sacrifice one of the front 3, Klopp abandoned his preferred 4-4-3 formation, replacing it with a seldom used 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mo Salah as the striker. Jota taking his place on the right.
The Reds were off to a bright side but were sub par in front of their opposition’s net. The first shot on target came from Trent Alexander-Arnold, which was a freekick from his own half, leading to a fingertip save by Sheffield United’s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
In the 13th minute, step-in centre back Fabinho tackled Ollie Mcburnie right at the edge of the penalty box – a free kick was initially awarded which was later controversially changed to a penalty by VAR. Interestingly enough, VAR was already under criticism for not checking a Harry Maguire foul at the Manchester United-Chelsea game earlier on in the day.
Sheffield’s Sander Berge made no mistake in converting the penalty kick, sending Alisson the wrong way and giving his side a surprise lead. This was the first time they were leading a side in the 2020/21 Premier League season.
At the 24th minute, Alisson showed Liverpool fans exactly why he was so missed, making a magnificent save to deny Ben Osborn from making the score line 2-0. The visitors had clearly gotten confidence from their spot kick goal. However, Liverpool relentlessly tried to plot their way through a stubborn Sheffield defence, conjuring 4 shots on target by the end of the first half.
But, at the 41st minute, the much needed equalizer arrived in the from of a Roberto Firmino tap-in. A Henderson ball found Sadio Mane right in front of the goal, who shot it straight at Ramsdale, who, after making the save, spilled into the path of Firmino who could not miss from close range. In doing so, the Brazilian scored his first league goal of this season.
Shortly after, Salah had an opportunity to make it 2-1 after he was played in on goal. However, Ramsdale came of his line – his foot preventing his team from going behind in the space of a couple of minutes.
Both sides made no changes at the interval.
At the 52nd minute Salah had a good opportunity to score one past the Sheffield keeper but the Egyptian’s effort was far too high. The 54th minute saw a glorious Jordan Henderson pass (almost Gerrard-esque!) to Mane which the latter unfortunately failed to dispatch.
Liverpool hearts stopped for a moment when Alisson took far too long for a goal kick in the 58th minute. As a result, the Brazilian was tackled by an opposition player. Thankfully, his side didn’t get punished due to his carelessness. It must have brought back the fans flashbacks of Leicester away, during the 2018/19, when a similar Alisson mistake gifted Rachid Ghezzal a goal.Embed from Getty Images
Moments later, Salah controlled a ball from Alexander-Arnold with a sublime first touch, scoring an absolutely exquisite and- alas – disallowed goal. However, Liverpool had the ball in the Sheffield net again a mere two minutes later, Diogo Jota getting his head onto a Mane cross, heading in powerfully. Ramsdale had no chance. This was the Portuguese’ second goal for his new team.
The tempo of the game steadily increased, with a very good Sheffield spell arriving after some positive substitutions made by Chris Wilder. Salah made a trademark run into the box 6 minutes later, turning away from his man and hitting the post. The ball ricocheting back into the hands of the grateful United keeper.
United had yet another golden opportunity to score one at the 92nd minute but Burke skied the chance. In the end though, it was Liverpool who took all the points. The win allowed Liverpool to become joint top of the Premier League table, levelling on 13 points with Merseyside rivals Everton (who have a game in hand) and handed Sheffield their 5th loss of the season.
TODAYS MOTM 🎖— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) October 24, 2020
You wanted him to step up, and so he did! Joe Gomez is today’s MOTM based on your votes.
94% – Pass Accuracy
90 – Passes (Most in match)
12 – Long Balls
108 – Touches
10 – Duels Won
8 – Clearances
1 – Tackle
6 – Aerials Win
2 – Intercept.
5 – Recoveries pic.twitter.com/qPfN8Htozn
It was the fourth consecutive Liverpool win over the Sheffield side, with an aggregate score line of 9-1 in the league. It also extended Liverpool’s run of unbeaten league games at home to 62.
Liverpool’s next game is FC Midtjylland in their second Champions League group match on Tuesday evening before entertaining West Ham to Anfield in the Premier League game next Saturday.