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Preview: Liverpool vs. Sheffield United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between champions Liverpool and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Premier League champions Liverpool welcome Sheffield United to Anfield on Saturday evening looking to return to winning ways in the top flight.

Jurgen Klopp's side were held to a contentious 2-2 draw by Everton in the Merseyside derby last weekend, but will be heavy favourites to beat a Sheffield United side with only one point to their name so far.

Match preview

Liverpool players celebrate after Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico scores an own goal in the Champions League on October 21, 2020© Reuters

There is no doubt that last weekend's 2-2 draw with Everton left a bitter taste in the mouth - not only because of the result but also because of the feeling of injustice which accompanied it, both in terms of the injuries suffered and the manner in which their late 'winner' was subsequently disallowed.

Liverpool bounced back in the best way possible with victory in midweek, though, as a scrappy own goal saw them make a winning start to their Champions League campaign away to Ajax.

While the result is always the most important thing, the significance of keeping a clean sheet without Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker or Joel Matip will also not be lost on Klopp at a time when so many questions are being asked regarding how the Reds will cope without the former in particular.

For the first time since January 2018, Liverpool will be missing Van Dijk for a Premier League game this weekend, and so the performance of Fabinho as an emergency centre-back will have calmed fears in a timely manner.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on October 17, 2020© Reuters

The champions will be expected to have enough to beat Sheffield United even without arguably their most important player, particularly at home where they are unbeaten in 61 league games, winning 27 of their last 28 including both so far this season.

Saturday will be Liverpool's first home league game in almost a month, and plenty has happened since that 3-1 triumph over Arsenal - most notably their 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa and last weekend's derby draw.

It took the Reds until gameweek 28 to drop four points last season, and should they fail to win again this weekend then it would be the first time since May 2018 that they have gone three Premier League matches in a row without winning.

Liverpool's recent defensive record, even with Van Dijk available, gives any visiting team a glimmer of hope, though, with Klopp's side conceding a joint-league high 13 goals so far this season.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk walks off injured during the Merseyside derby against Everton on October 17, 2020© Reuters

Indeed, since clinching the Premier League title last term, the Reds have shipped a league-high 25 goals in their 12 top-flight outings, having taken 38 matches to concede their previous 25 before that.

Most would expect the absence of Van Dijk to only exacerbate that problem, although Liverpool could hardly wish for a better opponent to face than Sheffield United in the circumstances.

The Blades have scored just twice in their five games this season - the fewest of any team in the division - and are the only team in the top flight yet to have been leading a match at any stage so far in 2020-21.

Chris Wilder's side needed a late Billy Sharp penalty to rescue a point at home to fellow strugglers Fulham last time out - a disappointing result but one which at least ended a seven-game losing streak and got them off the mark for the season.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp equalises against Fulham in the Premier League on October 18, 2020© Reuters

Things do not get any easier either; after Liverpool, Sheffield United face Manchester City and Chelsea in a daunting build-up to the next international break.

The most difficult test, on paper at least, appears to be this one first up, with Sheffield United having lost 19 of their last 23 top-flight visits to Anfield and last winning away to Liverpool in 1994.

The Blades have also lost 16 of their last 17 away games against the reigning top-flight champions - the exception coming in 1971-72 - and are without a Premier League win against any opposition on the road since February 1.

Indeed, Wilder's side have only won one of their last 12 top-flight away games since Christmas, netting only five goals in that time and never more than once in a game.

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWLD
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWLLDW

Sheffield United Premier League form: LLLLD
Sheffield United form (all competitions): LLLLLD

Team News

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara after the full-time whistle against Everton on October 17.© Reuters

Van Dijk's run of 94 consecutive Premier League starts will come to an end, and he is unlikely to be the only key Liverpool player missing from this match with Alisson Becker still struggling with a shoulder problem - although Klopp refused to entirely rule the Brazilian out.

Klopp may be able to welcome Thiago Alcantara back into his side after he avoided a serious injury from Richarlison's red-card challenge in the derby last weekend.

Matip is also pushing for a return after missing out in midweek, although Fabinho's performance against Ajax could see him keep his place alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence.

Naby Keita should be back available again, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a long-term absentee and Kostas Tsimikas is also still out.

Klopp was able to withdraw all of his front three on the hour mark against Ajax and, despite Sadio Mane being pictured icing his leg after coming off, all three are expected to start again this weekend.

Diogo Jota did impress off the bench in Amsterdam, though, and so will be pushing for a start amid questions over Roberto Firmino's fitness.

Liverpool are by no means the only team with injury issues, and Sheffield United are also without a key centre-back for the season with Jack O'Connell needing surgery on a knee injury.

Indeed, Wilder went as far as to claim that his side missing O'Connell, John Fleck and Lys Mousset is a "bigger blow" than Liverpool losing Van Dijk.

Max Lowe lasted only 19 minutes of his Premier League debut last weekend before being forced off with concussion, which is expected to keep him out of this match.

Ethan Ampadu could therefore return to the back three, with Enda Stevens switching back out to left wing-back.

Wilder could also be tempted to hand Rhian Brewster his full debut for the club against the team he left during the summer, hoping that the youngster will have a point to prove to Klopp and co at Anfield.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Basham, Ampadu, Egan; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Berge, Stevens; McBurnie, Brewster

SM words green background

We say: Liverpool 2-0 Sheffield United

Sheffield United rarely get heavily beaten, but this looks like a tall order for them to get anything out of the game. The Blades have really struggled so far this season and, while their hosts are weakened by injury, it would still be a major shock if they came away from Anfield with even a point.

For Liverpool it looks like an ideal contest against the division's lowest scorers, and with Mohamed Salah in good goalscoring form we expect the champions to return to winning ways in the league.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Sheffield United?

Sheffield United
Sheffield United
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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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