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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 February, 2020
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It’s nearly time for some Thursday Night Football, so… well, God only knows what day of the week it is at this stage.

Liverpool entertain Sheffield United in what should be a pretty testing Premier League clash at Anfield tonight. Jurgen Klopp’s men are looking to make it 19 wins from 20 outings this season — but the Blades, boosted by a strong Irish contingent, will be gunning to stop them in their tracks.

Kick-off is pencilled in for 8pm, with the game live on BT Sport 1. But we’ll have all the updates you need right here.

It’s been a hectic festive period of fixtures, and tonight’s meeting brings it all to a close.

Liverpool’s full focus remains on that coveted Premier League crown and tonight, they have the chance to pull 13 points clear at the summit.

Top flight new boys Sheffield United, on the other hand, could jump up to fifth with a win as the push for European football continues after an excellent first half of the season.

Before we move on to team news, here’s a look at the top of the table as it stands.

premier Source: Premier League.

Team news time

Starting with the hosts…

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Keita, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Adrian, Phillips, Milner, Lallana, Elliott, Jones, Origi.

Just the one change from their nervy 1-0 win over Wolves last time out. Naby Keita comes in for Adam Lallana, while Klopp opts for a fairly young bench.

And now for the visitors…

Sheffield United XI: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, Mousset.

Subs: Verrips, Jagielka, Osborn, Besic, Robinson, McBurnie, Sharp.

Chris Wilder has made two changes, one of those of particular interest to Irish fans. David McGoldrick leads the line at Anfield tonight, taking the place of Boys In Green teammate Callum Robinson. John Lundstram replaces Mo Besic, while two more Ireland internationals — John Egan and Enda Stevens — also start for the Blades.

“David McGoldrick’s been outstanding for us,” Wilder tells BT Sport in the build-up.

sheffield-united-v-newcastle-united-premier-league-bramall-lane Source: Mike Egerton

15 minutes or so to go. Who will it be?


Poll Results:

Liverpool (344)
Draw (47)
Sheffield United (41)



“This is the reason we wanted to be in the Premier League… for nights like tonight,” Wilder told BT Sport earlier, while the broadcaster showed a lovely piece with Sheffield United duo John Lundstram and Jack O’Connell afterwards. 

They’re best friends, and massive Liverpool fans. They even travelled to Madrid together last year for the Champions League final.

A short while later, they were facing the Reds on home soil — remember that heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in September? Can the Blades get one back tonight?

A late change for Liverpool… Naby Keita out, James Milner in. BT saying that he picked up a groin injury in the warm-up.

The two teams are out on the pitch under Thursday Night Lights, and there seems to be a great atmosphere in Anfield already. We’re almost ready to go as You’ll Never Walk Alone rings out around the ground.

KICK-OFF: Sheffield United, in their white away strip, playing from left to right, get us underway. Paul Tierney is the man in the middle tonight.

2 mins - an early call for offside on Mo Salah, Ireland’s John Egan leading the appeal. Both sides are just happy to settle into this one, stringing passes together and trying to find a rhythm early on.

GOAL! Liverpool 1 Sheffield United 0 (Salah 4)

The perfect start for the Reds as Salah has the ball in the back of the net with just four minutes on the clock. A composed cross from Robertson, a cool finish from Salah.

7 mins – Before and after that early goal, there were some half chances. And to their credit, Sheffield have kept Liverpool on their toes after the goal. Lundstram has a pop from distance and his dipping effort lands just the wrong side of the far post. Alisson was well beaten. McGoldrick has a go then after, forcing an Alisson save.

9 mins - The short corner effort off the back of that Didsy shot doesn’t go to plan as the Blades are caught offside. Liverpool, 1-0 up, are back in the driving seat once again, just throwing possession around.

SAVE! Salah forces Henderson into a stunning one-handed save from close range. Nothing much comes off the subsequent corner, as both sides regroup. Liverpool are looking slick.

14 mins -  John Lundstram is in for Sheffield, but he’s caught for offside. A good call from the linesman, and a good Liverpool line. 

19 mins - Wijnaldum has a go from inside the box, and his effort goes just over. That’s after some brilliant work from Mane. That’s the biggest chance we’ve had in quite a few minutes. Klopp looks fairly happy.

21 mins - A Sheffield corner goes nowhere at the other end, and Liverpool break at speed on the counter. Mane is held up on the left this time, but himself and Henderson don’t link up cleanly.

23 mins – Alisson has to dive on a Sheffield attack. They come together nicely and work the ball really well, mustering up a decent opportunity. Didsy played a lovely through ball in the middle of it all, but Mousset’s cross-cum-shot is a weak one. Could have done better, for sure.

26 mins - Egan does well at the back for Sheffield United, he’s battling hard in there to clear his lines and keep the Reds out.

28 mins - Anything Egan can do, Stevens can too. The Dubliner cuts out a dangerous ball from Firmino to Salah. Liverpool really starting to dominate territory now, which will be a worry for Chris Wilder.

SAVE! Henderson produces another brilliant save to deny Salah. Every time they get in over the top, they’re really threatening.

32 mins – Two Liverpool corners in quick succession, but nothing much to report on there. Salah and Mane, as per, are doing the damage up top anyway. Sheffield United could really do with something.

34 mins - Mane takes the ball off Fleck and charges forward. Liverpool, in their numbers, have options, but Firmino’s pass doesn’t find anyone. 

38 mins - Attacks cut out at both ends. Firmino is blocked down for Liverpool and while Sheffield look to break on the counter, Gomez uses his strength brilliantly to stop them in their tracks.

And a stat to go with it.

41 mins - Gomez is penalised for a tackle from behind on McGoldrick, but that actually looks harsh from the replay. He did get to the ball before Didsy.

 

Liverpool running the clock down here. Seconds until the 45 minutes are up, added time to follow.

45 mins – Sheffield break on the counter right at the end of the half, and it looks promising, but VVD saves the day with a wonderful interception. One minutes added on.

HALF-TIME: Liverpool 1 Sheffield United 0

Salah’s fourth-minute goal has the hosts ahead at Anfield.

liverpool-v-sheffield-united-premier-league-anfield Source: Peter Byrne

So, half time thoughts? Liverpool are most definitely in the driving seat and have looked pretty slick throughout, Salah’s early goal aside. Sheffield United have had some chances of their own all the same, but it seems the Reds will just push on after the break.

SECOND HALF: The hosts kick us off once again.

47 mins - Sheffield have started a bit more positively in this half, as Liverpool win an early free kick into the Kop End after a hand ball. Robertson sends the free in, Mane Misses it, VVD misses it and it sweeps across the goal. Close.

Interesting from that free — Mane’s being held by O’Connell when he goes for the ball, while Van Dijk’s shirt is being pulled. But it’s all let go…

51 mins - Sheffield definitely aren’t giving up, they’re still most definitely in this game. They run their most recent attack straight into Van Dijk, though, despite Stevens’ best efforts.

54 mins - The Fields of Athenry is ringing out around Anfield. The home fans are happy as Trent sends in a free kick, and another dangerous ball into the box off the back of it. Liverpool want a second, that’s for sure.

56 mins - Egan is leading the Sheffield defence at the minute. OOOOOOSSSSH!!! Just like that, Firmino cuts in from the left and sends an absolute rocket goalward. The only thing on his mind is the top corner, but he just misses.

58 mins - At the other end, Fleck’s cross absolutely wallops Stevens in the face at full force. He goes down in pain, but is back up and at it now. Through the lull, they show a replay of a recent free-kick, where McGoldrick is all over VVD. A lucky escape there, maybe…

WOAAAAH! Salah plays a chip into the box, VVD mistimes his header and completely misses it. Everyone kind of gives up on the ball as it looks to be heading wide, and then almost in slow motion – it’s like everyone was frozen in time – it hits the post, but stays out. And Henderson – surely the most relieved man in the stadium – gathers. Phew!

62 mins - Liverpool are really piling on the pressure here. A second goal looks imminent.

GOAL! Liverpool 2 Sheffield United 0 (Mane, 64)

Incredible. Mane and Salah link up, the former playing the original pass into the box before getting into the perfect position to go one-on-one against Henderson. The Sheffield keeper denies his first effort, but Mane makes no mistake with the second shot. Incredible football. The perfect example of counter attacking at pace.

68 mins - Close to a third… Trent Alexander-Arnold plays a cross in and Firmino comes so close, and then on the rebound, Salah fancies his chances from distance. Henderson gets down for another brilliant save.

71 mins – Liverpool are more than happy to just keep passing the ball around, and the home support are thoroughly enjoying every second. Sheffield are fairly living off scraps, but who knows, they could come up with something special.

74 mins - Break after break, run after run, Mane is just so good. He’s causing Sheffield United trouble with every single attack. Involved in nearly every move, he forces Henderson into another save.

76 mins - Speaking of Henderson, Liverpool’s very own has been brilliant tonight. He’s hardly given the ball away. Few substitutes on the way… we’ll update you on the few we missed earlier too. 

78 mins - Billy Sharp replaced Lys Moussett on 65, while McGoldrick made way for Oli McBurnie a minute later. Muhamed Besic now comes on for Oliver Norwood

On the other side, Mane comes off to a standing ovation, with Divock Origi coming on to replace him.

80 mins - Gomez wins Liverpool a corner after linking up with Alexander-Arnold. The camera switches to Chris Wilder, who’s on his honkers with his hands on his head.  A frustrating night all round.

82 mins - A rare corner for Sheffield as Alisson is called to action. He doesn’t have to deal with it, however, as VVD sorts all out, sending the ball out for another from the left. A push on the back on the same player leads to a free out.

84 mins - Good work from Gomez and Robertson over the past few minutes, but Sheffield are working hard to pull one back.

87 mins - CLOSE! And the goal was nearly there for the visitors. O’Connell plays a nice dangerous ball across the goalface, McBurnie connects with it at the backpost but can’t direct it to where he wants it to go. And Alisson is there to keep it out.

88 mins - Lallana comes in for Andy Robertson for the last few minutes, and he’s given a huge ovation.

90 mins - Two minutes added time. Origi gets back to make a brilliant tackle and keep Sheffield out. Liverpool burst forward in search for a third. Jordan Henderson is named Man of the Match.

91 mins - Mo Salah makes way for teenager Harvey Elliot. A goal and an assist, not a bad night for The Egyptian King. Both goalscorers on the bench now. Job done.

Job done for the European and World champions, indeed. Klopp’s Liverpool make it 19 wins from 20 outings this season, and go 13 points clear at the top of the table (with a game in hand). An entire calendar year in the Premier League without defeat.

If they win their next game, it’s the best top-flight start of any team in history. Sensational. The countdown for a first league title in 30 years continues.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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