Defensive grit & Klopp’s positivity earn deserved slice of luck – Media on Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool

29 September 2019

The media assessed Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Sheffield United as both lucky and another test passed, while praising the Reds’ defensive grit and Jurgen Klopp.


It certainly was not a vintage performance but the Reds dug it out at Brammall Lane to secure a priceless three points.

Liverpool benefitted from a second goalkeeping howler in as many games, as Blades stopper Dean Henderson allowed Gini Wijnaldum’s volley through his legs to gift the victory.

The win is all that matters and Klopp will be delighted by the way his side found a route through an awkward fixture to earn a sweet 16th straight league win.

Here’s what the media made of events in Yorkshire.

 

The media thought victory was fortunate but another big test passed in the early title race exchanges with Man City…

Standard Sport’s David Lynch noted how the victory now puts pressure on City to match Liverpool’s result on their visit to Brammall Lane:

And crucially, Pep Guardiola’s men still have to visit this cauldron to run the gauntlet thrown down by the impressive Sheffield United.

The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards wrote how Liverpool winning despite producing their worst showing in months shows how difficult the Reds will be to stop this season:

This was as bad as Jurgen Klopp’s side have played in the Premier League for months but it still ended in their 16th successive win. Ominious, surely, for those who wish to deny them the title.

And for that reason, the Mail’s Oliver Holt reckons Liverpool’s rivals will all be hoping the Reds are not kicked-out of the League Cup and given even more of a chance to focus on the title push:

Their league rivals will hope the EFL show Liverpool mercy and allow them to continue in the cup.

The last thing any of Liverpool’s challengers need is for them to be freed up to concentrate their resources even more on the Premier League.

 

Reporters praised Liverpool’s battling qualities and applauded the defence for bailing out the misfiring attack…

Lynch thought the key reason behind Liverpool getting over the line was due to the way the Reds stood up to the physical challenge:

You don’t get to 15 Premier League wins on the bounce without having to mix it from time to time; in fact, that was exactly what was required to bring about a 16th.

It could be seen in Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk’s absorbing war of attrition with Oli McBurnie and Callum Robinson – and then substitute Leon Clarke. It could be seen in Fabinho always somehow getting a toe to the ball, and then winning a crucial free-kick to relieve the pressure on his side.

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle praised the Reds for just staying in the game to always retain a chance of nicking a result, as happened:

And, of course, there was nothing lucky about the fact the Reds were still in a position to capitalise on such a blunder, kept in the game by the defensive triumvirate of Fabinho, Joel Matip and the outstanding Virgil van Dijk.

Paul Gorst, also of the Echo, singled out Fabinho’s efforts in helping see the game out and felt this was a match which showed exactly why Klopp signed him:

One performer who refused to dip below his usual impeccable standards was Fabinho, The sight of the Brazilian digging his heels in and disrupting United raids was a welcome one as the Reds fought to cling on to their slender margin in the final 15 minutes.

It’s afternoons like these that justify the £40million outlay on the defensive-minded Fabinho. His ability to fire-fight is a much-needed commodity for this Liverpool team.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA - Sunday, July 21, 2019: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a friendly between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ESPN’s Liam Wheeler picked Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool’s man-of-the-match for producing a “mammoth display”:

Comfortably Liverpool’s man of the match. Picked out Mane with a 40-yard ball over the top and yet again put in a mammoth display at the back.

The Mirror’s Mark Jones singled out Sadio Mane as the biggest culprit of wasting chances and thinks the Senegalese’s erratic finishing is why he is not regarded as one of the best attackers in the world:

In the week in which Lionel Messi voted for him as the best player on the planet, Mane served a first half reminder that there is still one thing in the way on his ascent to the very top.

The Senegalese is a brilliant, brilliant footballer, probably Klopp’s best signing pound-for-pound, but now and again he showcases an erratic nature in front of goal.

Wheeler bemoaned the poor decision making in key moments from the usually lethal front three:

So often praised for their attacking brilliance, the visitors were forced to endure a tough afternoon that was epitomised by over-hit passes and wrong decision making in vital moments.

Analysing the Reds’ below-par performance, Neil Jones, for Goal.com, expressed some sympathy with the attack noting how the supply was poor due to sloppy passing:

They passed the ball slowly and sloppily, struggled against Sheffield United’s counter-attacks and were unable to get their main players into the game for long spells. The tempo of their play was poor.

 

Reporters felt Klopp’s in-game switches worked but think this now leaves some interesting tactical dilemmas…

The Mirror’s Jones praised Klopp for his in-game switches, assessing that introducing Divock Origi and changing formation helped give the Reds more forward impetus:

As the clock ticked past the hour mark and Liverpool were struggling, the sight of Divock Origi warming up led to inevitable conclusions that it was going to be one of the front three coming off, but Klopp’s in-game management deserves acclaim.

[…]

It suddenly seemed to make the hosts realise just what they were up against, Liverpool finally took control of the game and then got their goal, albeit via a huge slice of luck.

Mirror colleague Simon Mullock wrote that Klopp got a deserved slice of luck for his positive changes, noting how it’s necessary such switches are made after draws cost the Reds last season:

But in the final analysis too many draws – seven of them – cost them the title.

[…]

With Chris Wilder’s side showing with every passing minute that they are a much-welcome addition to the top-flight, Liverpool’s boss went for broke rather than look to limit his losses.

Wheeler thought Klopp’s substitutions were good, noting how the Reds were more threatening with Origi and that James Milner’s experienced helped see out the win:

That helped Liverpool to gain a better foothold in their opponents half, as did Divock Origi‘s introduction, while James Milner‘s experience helped Liverpool to see the game out.

Finally, the Mirror’s Jones questioned whether it is time for Klopp to move away from what has become the ‘go-to’ starting team, assessing that more creativity is needed in midfield:

Klopp again opted for the tried and tested team that have started most of the club’s Premier League games this season, but is the time coming where his go-to XI has to change?

There is no doubted the energy levels and work of the trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum, but it is in games like this that a little bit more creativity is often needed in midfield.

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