Liverpool stay perfect, edge past Sheffield United
It was far from pretty but Liverpool secured their seventh-straight Premier League win on the trot to start the season, as Georginio Wijnaldum’s second half goal was enough to see them past a spirited Sheffield United side on Saturday.
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The Blades were compact and tough to break down at Bramall Lane, but a mistake from goalkeeper Dean Henderson was the difference between the teams.
With the win Liverpool move on to 21 points for the season and are momentarily eight points clear atop the Premier League table. Jurgen Klopp’s side have now won 16 games on the spin in the PL and are unbeaten in 24 matches.
3 things we learned
1. Liverpool grind out another win: It hasn’t been pretty for most of this season, but Liverpool lead the PL and have won seven games on the spin to kick off the campaign. Klopp’s men struggled to get going against the Blades and a lucky goal won them the game. You need a lot of luck to win the title and Liverpool have made the most of it early in the season.
2. Brilliant Blades hold their shape: Chris Wilder’s side should be commended for their superb defensive display which gave Liverpool a real headache. Their overlapping center backs forced Liverpool to change their formation and switch wing backs, as they held their shape defensively and were a threat when they did go forward. There were so many positives for the Blades to take from this defeat.
3. Henderson makes another costly error: He is 22 years old, and Henderson will progress. But he’s now made a couple of errors in his first season as a Premier League goalkeeper and he’s still growing up. He was devastated after the game-winner went in and after at the final whistle. He has the quality to be a PL player, but he has to develop the concentration.
Man of the Match: Fabinho. He stepped in to stop Sheffield United on so many occasions and on a day when Liverpool’s attack faltered, Fabinho
United set up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation and were tough to break down, as Liverpool struggled to get going in attack. At the other Callum Robinson dragged an effort wide as the home fans were buoyed by a good start.
Mohamed Salah was quiet but curled wide, as Liverpool began to find their feet and fine a little more space.
A long ball over the top found Mane who was clean through on goal but he shanked a glorious chance over the bar, much to the relief of the Blades defense.
Robertson and Robinson both went close, as the latter should have done better with a header in the box after a fine cross from Enda Stevens. Right on half time Firmino found Mane but his shot crashed off the post and out.
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In the second half Liverpool had to switch their shape as they couldn’t break the Blades down, with Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold swapping flanks as wing backs and Fabinho momentarily dropping into midfield.
But it was Sheffield United who had a host of chances to take the lead, as Ollie McBurnie and Oliver Norwood went close and Liverpool’s defenders were throwing themselves heroically in front of the ball.
Then came the moment which decided the game, and one Henderson will not want to see again.
A routine shot from Georginio Wijnaldum was straight at the Sheffield United goalkeeper but the ball somehow squirmed through his grasp and over the line. A horrible moment for the youngster, on loan at Sheffield United from parent club Man United.
As the Blades pushed forward in search of an equalizer late on, Salah went clean through but Henderson made a superb stop with his foot to somewhat make amends for his error.
In the final minutes Sheffield United came close to grabbing a point but substitute Leon Clarkes skied a chance over the bar, even though he looked to be just offside when the cross came in.