Sheffield United travel to Liverpool today knowing a tough assignment awaits them once again and they’ll have to win some big battles to gain a result.
Following defeat to champions Manchester City at the weekend, the Blades now travel to the ‘champions-elect’. It’s arguably the toughest run of the season for Chris Wilder and his team.
Any sort of result will be a massive plus for the Blades. Any Sheffield United fans who say they wouldn’t take a point right now is either unrealistic or massively optimistic.
Liverpool have had a busy December and now head into 2020 itching for more success. A win over United would make it a whole calendar year unbeaten in the Premier League.
But, Chris Wilder will not simply let his team rollover. We saw at Man City how good the Blades could be and they were unlucky not to get anything from the game.
Key battles will have to be won, however, if United are to take anything. With that in mind, then, here’s a look at THREE of the key areas the Blades will be looking to come out on top in.
Liverpool are arguably the most dangerous team in world football from wide areas. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah are as good as any two wide forwards around. Meanwhile, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson provide added danger from full-back.
However, the Blades also possess a threat out wide. Enda Stevens and George Baldock are key to United’s success.
It will be a key factor in how the game pans out. If the Blades can somehow force Robertson and ‘TAA’ back, then they stand a much better chance of not being overwhelmed at the back.
Dominating Virgil van Dijk
It’s almost impossible to do, but ensuring van Dijk doesn’t dominate proceedings is crucial.
Lys Mousset and Callum Robinson might well play up top again. This will allow United to drag the Dutchman wide if they can play to a similar level to that they produced at the Etihad.
The other option is Oli McBurnie. The Scot did well against the Liverpool star at Bramall Lane this season and Chris Wilder might well opt to use him as a battering ram of sorts.
Norwood to marshall Firmino
Brazilian Roberto Firmino might be Liverpool’s main striker but he does not occupy a natural number nine role.
Much like David McGoldrick does for the Blades, Firmino drops in and creates space between the lines. That means Oli Norwood could be crucial in keeping an eye on Firmino at all times.
Furthermore, Chris Wilder might opt for Mo Besic again. The Bosnian has done well of late and would add some steel in front of the back four should John Lundstram not make it.