Here’s hope for the Blades – Liverpool’s last 5 losses to promoted sides

There's reason for optimism in the Steel City - or in one half of it, at least.

Chris Wilder

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Liverpool continued their near-perfect start to the season with a 2-0 win for a youthful League Cup XI at MK Dons, and their next Premier League game comes against a team which was beating Wednesday’s opponents in the league as recently as 2017.

Sheffield United’s rise has been rapid, and they should theoretically have little chance against Jürgen Klopp’s Reds, but we know that’s not always how things work. The Blades have made a solid start to life back in the Premier League with two wins, two draws and two defeats in their opening six games.

What’s more, Liverpool haven’t always had it their own way against newly-promoted sides, as the following examples show.

Hull City 2-0 Liverpool, February 2017

Liverpool’s trip to Hull in 2017 was a classic case of playing a team at the wrong time, with the Tigers benefiting from a new manager bounce under Marco Silva and boasting a number of new signings brought in during the January window.

One of those new arrivals was Liverpool loanee Lazar Marković, ineligible for the game at the KCOM Stadium, but two more on-loan arrivals made the difference.

Alfred N’Diaye scored on his debut after a Simon Mignolet howler, while the win was sealed by Oumar Niasse, out of favour at Everton. It’s funny how these things work out.

Burnley 2-0 Liverpool, August 2016

Hull weren’t the only newbies to beat Liverpool that season, with promoted teams accounting for one third of the Reds’ six league defeats in 2016-17. Burnley didn’t have to wait nearly as long, though, swatting aside the Merseyside club in their first game at Turf Moor after returning to the top-flight.

Ironically, the win was secured in part by a man bought by the Clarets to replace Danny Ings when the striker moved to Liverpool in 2015: Andre Gray doubled the lead shortly before half-time, adding to Sam Vokes’ early effort, and Liverpool had no way back after the break.

Watford 3-0 Liverpool, December 2015

Jürgen Klopp has lost three league games to newly-promoted teams since taking over in October 2015. In the same time, Manchester City have been unbeaten against promoted opposition, Chelsea have lost the same number of times as Liverpool and d have lost just once, against Wolves last season.

Klopp’s first such reverse came against Quique Sánchez Flores’ Watford back in December 2015, handing the German manager a third defeat in six games and a comprehensive one at that. Stand-in goalkeeper Ádám Bogdán gifted an opener to Nathan Aké inside the first five minutes, before Odion Ighalo added two more after some extremely shaky defending, famously being joined in his celebrations by Harry the Hornet.

Hull City 3-1 Liverpool, December 2013

Hull’s second entry on this list takes us back to the Steve Bruce era, and a season in which they reached a cup final and scored six in a Premier League game, ensuring they have done the latter more recently than Manchester United.

Still, it’s strange to think a season which ended with a sustained (but ultimately fruitless) Liverpool title charge also included a reverse against a team with Yannick Sagbo supported by Robert Koren up front.

Steven Gerrard ensured Liverpool went in level at half-time, drawing the Reds level shortly after Jake Livermore’s opener, but David Meyler put the Tigers back in front 18 minutes from time and the victory was sealed by Martin Škrtel’s late own goal, one of four times he put through his own net that season.

Southampton 3-1 Liverpool, March 2013

Liverpool have often had a tough time of it against Southampton, losing 1-0 to the Saints at Anfield in 2014 through a Dejan Lovren goal and falling to Sadio Mané-inspired opposition in Klopp’s first season, shortly before the manager brought the Senegal forward to Merseyside.

The run began even earlier than that, though, with Mauricio Pochettino leading the south coast club to a 3-1 victory in their first season back in the top flight after nearly a decade away. And, of course, a future Liverpool man was on the scoresheet.

Early goals seem to be a common theme in this piece, and Morgan Schneiderlin opened the scoring just six minutes in before Liverpool fan and Red-to-be Rickie Lambert doubled the lead with a deflected free-kick. Philippe Coutinho pulled one back, but Jay Rodriguez clinched victory late on after running through the visitors’ defence. The result sparked a run of three straight wins which would ultimately secure Southampton’s safety.

Sheff Utd 8/1, Draw 4/1, Liverpool 1/3

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