Liverpool v Sheffield : English Premier League Match, Team News, Goal Scorers and Stats

Published On: January 1, 2020, 10:37 pm
Author: Olusanya Akinrinola
-- (m) at 1-01-2020 10:37PM

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Date :Thursday 2nd, January 2020
Time: 9:00pm
Stadium Anfield Stadium
Referee Paul Tierney (England)
Goal Scorer:

Team News
Two of the Premier League's standout performers during the first half of the season meet on Friday when runaway leaders Liverpool host high-flying Sheffield United at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's side begin 2020 with a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table, while Sheffield United have surpassed all expectations to sit eighth after 20 games, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
These two sides came into the 2019-20 season with entirely opposite goals, and both begin the New Year knowing that only a dramatic collapse will prevent them from achieving those targets.
For Liverpool the task was clear - dethrone Manchester City as champions of England to end their 30-year wait for a 19th title; they now boast a 13-point lead at the summit with a game in hand having enjoyed the joint-best first half of a season in English top-flight history.
The Reds were also slightly fortunate to win the reverse of this fixture as a Dean Henderson howler gifted them the only goal of the game, but a defining feature of their campaign has been getting the job done even when not at their best.

At the time of kickoff on Thursday it will be just a day short of a full year unbeaten in the league for Liverpool, a run which now stands at 36 games and includes 31 victories.

It may be too early to begin speaking about the all-time record of 49 games unbeaten just now - particularly with a difficult run coming up which sees them face Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Wolves after Sheffield United - but talk is already turning to whether Liverpool can record an Invincible campaign rather than simply if they can win the league.

The assertion from within the camp is that they are taking things game by game, though, and that certainly seems to be the case having now made it 10 league wins in a row and four clean sheets on the bounce to boot - twice as many as they managed in their opening 15 games of the campaign.

Liverpool have not kept five successive Premier League clean sheets since September 2007, while at home they have now recorded back-to-back shutouts after failing to keep a single one in their 12 previous Anfield outings.
The remarkable statistics keep on coming too, with Liverpool chalking up 17 successive Premier League home wins at Anfield and 50 games unbeaten now, stretching all the way back to April 2017.
Xherdan Shaqiri has joined Liverpool's list of absentees with a hamstring injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for the opening week or so of 2020.

The Swiss playmaker joins Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Nathaniel Clyne and Rhian Brewster on the sidelines.

Klopp has not taken too many opportunities to rest key players since returning from the Club World Cup and must decide whether to rotate for this match or wait for Sunday's FA Cup Merseyside derby against Everton.

A four-day gap between games could mean that most of the big-hitters start again, including Sadio Mane, who was directly involved in a league-high 21 goals from 19 home games during 2019.

Liverpool's options have also been bolstered by new signing Takumi Minamino, although he is unlikely to be thrown straight into the starting lineup just a couple of days after his arrival.

The match showcases the two goalkeepers with the best minutes per goals conceded ratios in the league, with Alisson Becker ahead of Henderson in that respect but the Sheffield United shot-stopper boasting a division-high seven clean sheets.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WLWWWW

As for Sheffield United, they were out to defy the pre-season predictions which had them as favourites to suffer an immediate relegation back to the Championship; they are now only 11 points off the magic 40-point mark, with only one promoted team having ever fared better at this stage of a Premier League campaign.
As impressive as Sheffield United have been this term, the stats suggest that they are unlikely to be the team to end those runs, with Liverpool having gone 26 home league games unbeaten against promoted teams and winning all 11 such matches under Klopp.

Klopp has also won his last 19 Premier League games against English managers - the longest-ever such run in the competition - while there have only been three occasions in Premier League history where a promoted team has won away to a side which begins the day top of the table.

Liverpool have only won their opening league game of a calendar year once in the last five attempts, though, and Sheffield United are one club who will not be cowed by the thought of a trip to Anfield.

Thursday's match makes for a devilish double-header as far as the Blades are concerned, having visited Manchester City in their final game of 2019 too, falling to a 2-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium despite the champions looking jaded.
The defeat was only United's second in their last 13 league outings and they have not lost back-to-back top-flight matches yet this season - a trait of being hard to beat which means that they have lost the same number of games as the likes of Man City and Manchester United so far.

That tally may increase with Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City as three of their next four opponents, but even if there is a sharp drop-off in form over the coming weeks, United have put themselves in a very strong position to survive.

Chris Wilder's side are 11 points clear of the relegation zone and only need three more wins and a draw from their final 18 games to reach the 40-point mark - an entirely achievable target considering what they have already managed this term.

The Blades have actually fared better away from home than they have in front of their own fans this season, with Sunday's defeat at Man City their first on the road in any competition since January 19.

Those travels include a victory over Everton earlier in the campaign, meaning that a shock result on Thursday would see them win away at both Merseyside clubs in the same league season for the first time since 1965-66 - a year that saw Liverpool go on and win the title.
The visitors could be without Liverpool-born John Lundstram, who will be handed a late fitness test after missing the Man City game through injury.

Simon Moore is their only other injury concern, although the likes of David McGoldrick and Oli McBurnie could return having been rested last time out.
Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick, McBurnie
Sheffield United Premier League form: LWWWDL

Head To Head
Henderson's howler in the reverse fixture means that Liverpool have now won three and lost none of the last four meetings, with United's last league win in this fixture coming in 1994.

That triumph did come at Anfield, though, and is Sheffield United's only win in their last 13 away games against Liverpool in all competitions - a run which includes 11 defeats.

The most recent visit to Anfield came in February 2007, when Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners courtesy of a couple of Robbie Fowler penalties in addition to goals from Sami Hyypia and Steven Gerrard.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Sheffield United
Sheffield United are likely to pose serious questions of Liverpool just as they did in the reverse fixture, but the Reds look unstoppable at the moment, particularly at Anfield.

It is by no means a banker for the champions elect and could be exactly the type of fixture which sees them drop points at the tail end of such a hectic schedule, but it is hard to back anything other than a Liverpool win at the moment.