Liverpool extended their winning run to 16 games after beating Sheffield United 1-0 at an electric Brammall Lane. A second-half Gini Wijnaldum goal ensured that the three points returned to Merseyside and extended the lead at the top to 8 points, until later probably.
We started the game quickly, keeping the ball well in dangerous areas in and around the Sheffield United box. Despite this, Oli McBurnie had the first chance of the game. Joel Matip cheaply gave it away but McBurnie could only drive the ball straight at Adrian.
The game died down a bit after this chance. Sheffield United, to their credit, pressed Liverpool high and forced a lot of stupid mistakes, they kept their shape well and defended superbly, not allowing the front three to get on the ball.
United’s gameplan was clearly route one, and it worked throughout the early stages as Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk were left two on two with McBurnie and Robinson most of the time. Robinson flashed a shot wide of Adrian’s far post after an incisive piece of play on the 20-minute-mark.
Similar to his goal against Burnley, Alexander-Arnold whipped a ball to the back post which clipped the roof of the net. The closest Liverpool came to scoring in the first 25 minutes. Mo Salah capitalised on a mistake from Stephens but his shot was never troubling Dean Henderson.
Sadio Mane was presented with a golden chance to put us ahead in the 34th minute. Virgil van Dijk pinged a sensational ball over the top and all Mane had to do was smash it in. The Senegalese shanked it a few yards wide. Robertson then striked wide a minute later. The signs were there that Liverpool were quickening the tempo a little bit.
Again, Mane really should’ve put us ahead just before half time. Firmino put it on a plate after a quick break but Mane could only hit the post from no more than 6 yards out. A guilt-edged opportunity.
Liverpool could’ve easily been given a penalty early in the second half as Lundstram went in late on Mane. There was contact, he didn’t get the ball and was late but VAR is pointless when it comes to penalties.
Oli Norwood forced Adrian into a decent save in the 65th minute. The midfielder let rip from 25 yards and, even though it may have been creeping wide, the Spaniard took no chance and plunged down to his right to tip it wide.
Fleck then found himself through on goal but he took too long and allowed Andy Robertson to fly across from the other side of the box and deny Fleck getting a shot on target.
In the 70th minute, Liverpool finally took the lead. The ball was headed out onto the right foot of Gini Wijnaldum. The Dutchman’s volley somehow squirmed under Dean Henderson. A horrendous mistake from the keeper but the lucky breaky that we desperately needed.
Dean Henderson redeemed himself 7 minutes later. Mo Salah capitalised on another defensive mistake and was one and one but pretty much telegraphed were he was putting it. Henderson stuck a leg out and narrowly got it over the bar.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes, we saw more of the same stuff we saw at Chelsea. Taking our time over everything, becoming that cynical side we need to be, with Adran getting booked for timewasting.
Sheffield United had a major chance to equalise through Leon Clarke. A spectacular ball in from the left was met by Clarke but he could only lift it comfortably over Adrian’s bar.
A vital three points on the road. The introduction of Divock Origi changed the complexion of the game and Fabinho was simply immense again. Special mention to Sheffield United, though. They played fantastically well and if they play with that intensity all year, they’ll be just fine.
Next up for Liverpool, a return to the Champions League against RB Salzburg at Anfield.