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It gets harder and harder to know what to say about Liverpool at the moment. After never previously losing two league games in a row in over five years with the club, Jurgen Klopp has now seen his side beaten in the their previous four league matches.
They’ve gone from the sublime form of last season to the ridiculous in 2020/21, and all it took was more injuries than your average series of ER and the worst VAR record since it was ham-fistedly introduced into the Premier League.
Sunday 19:15: Sheffield Utd v Liverpool
Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League
And while you might think a match against the side who are bottom of the league offers a good chance to steer the good ship Liverpool back on course, their record this season perhaps suggests otherwise. In a mini-league of the teams who go into the weekend in the top half of the Premier League, Liverpool are top, with at least four points more than every other side. Yet put them in separate division along with the bottom 10 teams and they are only sixth.
Plus with both of these clubs being in the bottom five of the form guide – with two wins apiece from their previous six league matches – is there any hope here of a major upset? In terms of Sheffield United winning rather than Liverpool, just to be clear.
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With Liverpool on their 437th central defensive pairing of the season, it may seem that anything is possible. But let’s be realistic.
For all that Liverpool are on a bad run at present, they’ve recently beaten Leipzig, West Ham and Tottenham away from home, and were leading at Leicester until one of those pixel-level offside decisions which all football fans love went against them.
And while the Blades have won two of their last four league matches at Bramall Lane, their vanquished foes were Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion. Victories in British Manager Club derbies are all well and good, but those teams are among the lowest-scoring in the division.
Meanwhile Liverpool are only two goals shy of having scored the most on the road in the Premier League this season, and no team has had more clear-cut chances away from home either.
While Klopp and Chris Wilder will be bickering on the sidelines about who is the most selfish, the visitors should be able to carve through United’s injury-ravaged defence while their own holds the lowest-scoring team in the top flight at bay. Liverpool’s ailing top-four fight will get a shot in the arm with a win here.
Since Sheffield United were promoted to the Premier League, only Crystal Palace have had fewer home matches which featured no more than two goals.
However, a lot of the Blades low scoring matches in that time have been against the weaker teams in the top flight. Four of their six home games which featured at least three goals last season came when they hosted sides that finished in the top six, and three of their five in this campaign occurred against teams currently in those positions.
And while the corresponding fixture only ended 1-0 to the Reds as Dean Henderson spilled a long range effort from Gini Wijnaldum, the expected goals from the game suggested 2-1 would’ve been a fairer outcome.
Liverpool will be onto their 438th defensive duo by the time you read this, so a clean sheet will be hard to come by and we should see over 2.5 goals in the match.
The Reds’ last five goals against Sheffield United have been scored by five different players. As well as Wijnaldum’s winner, their established front three have all netted across the last two meetings, and Diogo Jota got the decisive goal at Anfield in October.
With the Portuguese hotshot injured and the scoring touch of Wijnaldum often remaining in a bottle, it’s natural to select a scorer bet from one of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
But do we go with the player who has done most of Liverpool’s scoring recently – the Egyptian – or someone who is due a goal?
I’m opting for the latter. No player in their last four league matches has only scored once while having more shots on target or more attempts from inside the box than Mane has, so he’ll net again before long. As United look likely to be deprived of all three of their first choice central defence, he’ll rarely get a better chance.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
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