Diogo Jota’s header helped Liverpool come from behind to beat a resilient Sheffield United side 2-1 at Anfield.
Here is what we made of it …
Champions not purring yet
Much like Manchester City, Liverpool have yet to hit anywhere close to their all-conquering best so far in 2020/21.
Unlike Manchester City, the champions have managed to get some results over the line and end a week where they lost Virgil van Dijk for what is likely to be the rest of the season in second place, level on points with league leaders Everton.
A lack of pre-season mixed with frequent injuries can go some way explaining the lack of fluidity in both teams so far but it bodes well for the Reds that they’ve reacted to the shock 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa by getting back on the horse almost straight away.
Avoiding defeat in the Merseyside Derby and navigating a tricky game at home to Sheffield United represents a solid’s week work for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool had started well before Sander Berge’s penalty gave the visitors the lead tonight but after that lacked any fluidity or rhythm in their search for an equaliser.
They managed to get the result over the line in the end which is a feat they have excelled in over the last two seasons but there has to be a lot more to come if they are to retain their title.
Better from the Blades
Sheffield United came into this fixture without a win so far this season, and although that run continued this was much, much better from the Blades.
The Blades caused Liverpool all manner of problems throughout the 90 mins and if Oliver Burke had been more composed in the 92nd minute, they could have come away from Anfield with a point.
They looked fitter, stronger and a lot more threatening in attack than they have in their previous five games.
The mumblings of ‘second season syndrome’ had started to creep in when discussing United but they will have no problem staying up if they reproduce performances like tonight on a consistent basis.
Chris Wilder will travel home relatively pleased with what he saw from his team tonight.
Rough and ready
Have Liverpool made a rod for their own back with their reaction to the fouls made by Jordan Pickford and Richarlison in last weekend’s meeting with Everton?
The challenges led to injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcântara which has clearly not been well received at Anfield, with midfielder Gini Wijnaldum accusing Everton of ‘going too far’ during media duties in midweek.
That sort of reaction can’t be criticised too much but with the grievances being aired so publicly, it could well have made Liverpool look slightly vulnerable to a physical and intense approach.
Klopp’s men have overcome these sort of tactics on a number of occasions in the previous couple of seasons but opposition teams may feel they have a way home against the Reds now.
Sheffield United hounded the hosts all night and displayed a number of crunching tackles themselves, with John Lundstram showing Mohamed Salah he ‘was there’ within the opening minutes.
The Blades made it difficult for the Reds and the champions never got into their full stride because of this.
Liverpool got over the line tonight but this is certainly something worth keeping an eye on.