Liverpool look to complete a full year unbeaten in the Premier League when they host Sheffield United. Paul Higham has the preview and best bets.
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Liverpool v Sheffield United
- 8pm BT Sport 1
- Match odds: Home 1/4 | Draw 9/2 | Away 11/1
January 3 2019 was the date of Liverpool's last Premier League defeat so if they avoid a huge upset against Anfield they'll complete a calendar year of invincibility.
They looked a tired side towards the end of their 1-0 win over Wolves, but Chris Wilder's Blades must surely also be feeling the pace having played at Manchester City on Sunday and now complete the herdest double-header imaginable by facing the runaway league leaders four days later.
In this busy period the team-sheets are of course important, but with Jurgen Klopp claiming to only have 13 senior players to pick from due to injuries, the same ten that have lined up for most of the last two games will go again, with just one midfield space to be filled by either Adam Lallana, James Milner or Naby Keita.
It's a sign of how well the Blades have done this season that their defeat at the Etihad was their first away loss of the season - they've also not lost consecutive games in the league this term but have it all to do to continue that run on Merseyside.
The tactical battle will be fascinating as both sides are dangerous in wide areas, and just how the flying full-backs in red get on against United's overlapping centre halves will be crucial. Energy levels are also key as both sides like to press hard and high, and these Blades will not be coming just for a day out at the would-be new champions.
Klopp's side have made Anfield a real fortress though and they’ve even rediscovered their defensive solidity in the league with four clean sheets in a row coming after Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk renewed their excellent partnership.
The visitors themselves are tough nuts to crack on their travels as they concede less than a goal a game so we may be in short supply of goal mouth action in this one with Wilder's well-drilled unit happy to soak up pressure. They had just 27 percent of the ball at Man City and it could be a similar story here.
Liverpool's haven't lost at home to a promoted side since 2010 and only three times in Premier League history has a newcomer won at the league leaders, so the stats are against the shock result, but a draw definitely comes into play if Liverpool struggle to break down the visiting defence.
So we'll play for a home win and not too many goals, under 2.5 is a real possibility but you never know how tired legs will recat late on in games and with Liverpool's attack there's always a chance of a few late ones spoiling the party so we're playing it safe.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Sheffield United (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Best bet: Liverpool and Under 3.5 Goals in match
Liverpool v Sheff Utd Opta stats
- Liverpool won the reverse fixture against Sheffield United 1-0, and are looking to do the league double over the Blades for the first time since the 1990-91 campaign.
- Sheffield United have won just one of their last 13 away games against Liverpool in all competitions (D1 L11), picking up a 2-1 win in the Premier League in April 1994.
- Under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have won all 11 of their home league games against promoted sides by an aggregate score of 33-4. The Reds are unbeaten in their last 26 such games at Anfield since losing 1-2 against Blackpool in October 2010 under Roy Hodgson (W21 D5).
- Liverpool have won their first league game in just one of the last five calendar years (D2 L2). They lost their first league game of 2019 against Man City, their only Premier League defeat of 2018-19.
- Sheffield United beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park earlier this season – they’ve not won away against both Merseyside clubs in the same league campaign since 1965-66, a season that saw Liverpool win the league and Everton win the FA Cup.
- Liverpool are looking to keep five consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since September 2007 under Rafael Benitez.
- In Premier League history, only three newly-promoted teams have won away from home against a team starting the day top of the table – Ipswich at Norwich in December 1992, Derby at Man Utd in April 1997 and Hull at Arsenal in September 2008 (P63 W3 D12 L48).
- Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was involved in 21 goals in his 19 Premier League home games in 2019, scoring 18 and assisting three at Anfield; more than any other Premier League player at home in the calendar year.
- No keeper has kept more Premier League clean sheets than Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson this season (7). Among all goalkeepers to play more than once this term, only Liverpool’s Alisson (one every 185 minutes) has a better minutes per goal conceded ratio than Henderson (one every 107 minutes).
- Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has won his last 19 Premier League games against English managers, the longest ever such winning run by a manager in the competition’s history. The last time he failed to win such a game was at Sam Allardyce’s Everton in April 2018 (0-0), while his last such defeat was against Allardyce’s Crystal Palace in April 2017 (1-2), which was also Liverpool’s last home league defeat.
Odds correct as of 1600 GMT on 01/01/20
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