Liverpool ground out an ugly but invaluable 1-0 win at Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon.
Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League, Bramall Lane
September 28, 2019
Goals: Wijnaldum 70′
Adrian (out of 10) – 6
Adrian has been growing all the time in a Liverpool shirt and he was a solid performer.
His distribution was inconsistent and he flapped at a corner badly, but he made one good save to thwart Oliver Norwood.
Didn’t come for a late cross that Leon Clarke should have equalised from, earning the wrath of Andy Robertson.
Fresh off the back off his free-kick at Chelsea last weekend, Alexander-Arnold was poor at Bramall Lane.
His positional sense wasn’t always the best and he was also horribly wasteful in possession, too often finding an opposition player.
Joel Matip – 7
Matip has arguably been Liverpool’s outstanding performer in September and he was fairly impressive again on Saturday.
One loose pass almost led to an early goal for the Blades, but he was otherwise dependable, making one vital headed clearance just before half-time and coming out with the ball well.
Isolated now and again, but dealt well with the challenge.
Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match)
This is why Van Dijk the best centre-back in the world.
The Dutchman was again at the heart of the Reds’ defence, playing his 58th Premier League match in a row dating back to January 2018.
He was truly colossal, proving to be a monster aerially, showing perfect positional sense and leading his teammates.
The Dutchman produced one great pass to Sadio Mane that he should have scored from. Quite frankly, Liverpool would not have won without him.
Andy Robertson – 6
Robertson hasn’t made the greatest start to the season and he was again short of his best.
One superb block to deny John Lundstram was a high point – he made another priceless one after the break, too – but his final ball disappointed and he fired a first-half shot well wide of the target.
By most left-backs’ standards, Robertson is playing perfectly well, but he can offer much more.
Fabinho – 7
The Brazilian was typically neat and tidy on the ball and strong in the tackle, but he didn’t quite have the influence on show for most of this season to date.
Influential late on, when the visitors’ backs were against the wall.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Henderson returned to the side after a midweek break but he was a frustrating presence.
The captain’s attacking limitations were exposed against an expertly-drilled Sheffield United side, with a lack of guile seeing the front-three starved of service.
Worked his socks off, as always, but Liverpool needed more and he was substituted in the second half.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
For Henderson, also see Wijnaldum.
The Dutchman has been a relatively quiet performer of late and there were times he needed to be far more creative.
Everybody knows the understated subtle intricacies to Wijnaldum’s game, but in a game of this ilk, he has to be coming to the fore rather than essentially going missing.
Then again, he goes and scores a massive winner to make our Saturday memorable, not that the rest of his game should be ignored.
Mohamed Salah – 5
Salah has been the least heralded of Liverpool’s much-lauded front-three of late and Saturday was another display indicative of a player not firing on all cylinders.
The Egyptian tried to make things happen, shooting wide with the Reds’ first attempt of the match, but his end product wasn’t at its usual world-class level.
Missed a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 – luckily it wasn’t decisive.
Sadio Mane – 6
Mane was looking to add to his six goals in all competitions this season, but he failed in that respect, missing two superb chances in the first half.
He sliced his first effort horribly, before hitting the post with the goal gaping soon after.
Just one of those days for Mane, who was always dangerous but didn’t fire.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Firmino has been the Reds’ star man in 2019/20, but this was arguably his least memorable performance of the season so far.
He was nullified expertly by United, who gave him little space to wreak havoc, and his usual inch-perfect final ball wasn’t always on show.
Still, he looked the most likely to make things happen at 0-0 and improved as the hosts searched for a goal. More effective after the change to 4231.
Divock Origi (on for Henderson, 63′) – 7
The Belgian produced a vibrant cameo, playing a key role in the goal and looking a threat from the left-hand side.
James Milner (on for Firmino, 87′) – 6
Helped run the clock down and used his experience.
Alex Oxlade=Chamberlain (on for Mane, 90+4′) – n/a
Only on the pitch for a matter of seconds.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Lovren, Lallana
Jurgen Klopp – 7
The manager will have better days at the office than this, but he still ensured his side dug deep and picked up a huge three points.
Liverpool were a long way short of their best at Bramall Lane, although the manager’s starting lineup could not really be questioned before kickoff.
He arguably waited a little too long to make substitutions, with the Reds looking blunt, but the change to 4231 proved crucial in getting Liverpool over the line.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not