Liverpool came from behind to seal a 2-1 win against Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday night. The Blades took a shock lead after just 13 minutes, when Fabinho was adjudged to have fouled Oliver McBurnie just inside the Liverpool penalty area. Sander Berge converted the spot kick, much to the dismay of Jurgen Klopp.
The early setback initiated a response from the Reds, who levelled the game just before half-time — Roberto Firmino tapping home from close range after Sadio Mane’s header was saved. The comeback was completed just after the hour mark, when new signing Diogo Jota clinically headed the ball past Aaron Ramsdale. The win takes Liverpool into second place in the Premier League table, level on points with city rivals Everton.
Despite the tricky start, captain Jordan Henderson was excellent throughout. His pass in the lead up to Firmino’s equaliser was wonderfully inventive, while in a defensively capacity, he was customarily hard-working. Liverpool’s 4-2-3-1 system didn’t function too effectively at times, but the sides full-backs provided good creativity from wide areas. However, the most pleasing aspect of tonight’s win will surely be Firmino breaking his goal duck after a long baron spell.
The home side never looked comfortable defensively. Without the presence of Virgil van Dijk in the backline, Liverpool struggled when put under periods of sustained pressure. Fabinho’s rash early tackle which led to Sheffield United’s penalty wasn’t the only instance where a defender had a rush of blood to the head. It has to be said that the defence weren’t exactly helped by the attack and midfield, with players like Georginio Wijnaldum drifting out of the game at times.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Set his team out in an experimental 4-2-3-1 formation, which allowed Jota to play alongside Liverpool’s brilliant front three. Despite the early setback, there is certainly potential in the new system; as Jota netted, while the likes of Salah and Firmino were unlucky to have not added more goals. Considering this was the first time the German manager has selected this XI, it wasn’t a bad first attempt by any means. In the closing stages he introduced James Milner and Takumi Minamino, two sensible substitutions which helped the home side to hold out for the win under sustained Sheffield United pressure.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 7 — Arguably dived too early for Berge’s penalty, but that aside, the Brazilian was solid in his return from injury. A calming presence in the absence of van Dijk.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 — The young full-back played a key role in his side’s revival, as he linked up well with Salah and Henderson on the right side of the pitch. Was less impressive in a defensive capacity, after failing to track his man on a handful of occasions.
DF Fabinho, 5 — Conceded the penalty which led to Sheffield United’s opener, following a very clumsy tackle on the edge of his own box. After his heroics in Amsterdam on Wednesday, this was very much a step backwards for the stand-in defender.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — An industrious display from the Scottish captain, who seemed to be inching to make an impact on the game. His final ball may not have always been accurate, but he never stopped trying to make things happen.
Diogo Jota’s goal made him the first Liverpool player to score in his first two home games since Sadio Mane. Getty MF Jordan Henderson, 8 — A captain’s performance — he was integral in everything good that Liverpool did tonight. His cross that eventually led to Firmino’s opener was a particular highlight.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6 — A strangely quiet game in the middle of the park. Though he didn’t play especially badly, the 29-year-old was a peripheral figure throughout.
FW Diogo Jota, 8 — Scored a lovely second-half header to justify his selection tonight. The experimental line-up, which saw Jota play alongside Liverpool’s normal front three, shows early signs of promise. FW Mohamed Salah, 8 — Was the home sides’ most dangerous attacker in the second half. The Egyptian superstar was unlucky to have a fine goal chalked off for an offside infringement — as he deserved a reward for his efforts this evening.
FW Sadio Mane, 7 — Started very brightly. His influence appeared to tail off as the game wore on — notwithstanding his cross for Jota’s header, which was beautifully weighted.
FW Roberto Firmino, 7 — Finally broke his goalless streak with the simplest of close-range tap-ins. With that being said, the Brazilian’s overall contribution was excellent from a slightly deeper false 9 position.
MF James Milner N/R — The perfect man to bring on when your side is holding out for a win.
FW Takumi Minamino, N/R — Came on too late to make any real impact.