Mac Allister to the rescue, but more goals needed? – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-1 Sheff United

Alexis Mac Allister inspired Liverpool to a win after making things much more difficult than they should have been, with a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United.

Liverpool 3-1 Sheffield United

Premier League (30), Anfield
April 4, 2024

Goals: Nunez 17′, Mac Allister 76′, Gakpo 90′; Bradley OG 58′


Talismanic Mac Allister to the rescue

Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, Apr. 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

With Wataru Endo injured, Alexis Mac Allister was back in the deep-lying midfield role for Liverpool.

It was initially disappointing to see him back there, as he’s played so well as one of the more advanced midfield pair – which has also shown Endo’s importance.

But though Mac Allister’s position reverted back to the No. 6, his influence on this team remains great.

When the ball fell to him on the edge of the area with the score at 1-1, you currently wouldn’t have wanted anyone else in that position, and he duly rifled it into the top corner.

He hit the bar with a brilliant free-kick shortly after. It was a talismanic performance that kept Liverpool top of the table.


Not much goal difference bonus

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 4, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo (R) celebrates with Dutch team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Sheffield United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the end, Liverpool were happy with the three points, but when looking forward to a game against the team at the bottom of the table they might also have had goal difference in mind – supporters certainly did.

Jurgen Klopp would not be so presumptuous to think this would have been an easy game, but getting a few goals on the board must have been in the players’ minds.

Of the three title contenders, Arsenal are the team with the advantage in terms of goal difference, currently on +48 while, perhaps surprisingly, Man City are only on +38.

This game took Liverpool up to +42. A few more would certainly have been nice, but the important thing is getting the points, which wasn’t as easy as they might have hoped but, importantly, they just about managed.


Curtis cameo

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 31, 2024: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Curtis Jones had been out for the best part of two months with an ankle injury, not that you could tell.

His contribution wasn’t as noticeable or as important as Mac Allister’s, and there was no assist to his name as was the case for fellow substitute Andy Robertson.

But Jones’ general play, his touch, awareness and the ease with which he slotted back into this team was one of the more encouraging signs for Klopp.

Starter Ryan Gravenberch didn’t quite get things going in midfield for himself or for the team, but Jones was able to provide some control as well as forward-thinking.

In just 20 minutes he attempted 31 passes, just two fewer than Gravenberch, and completed 94 percent of them.

He will be very useful from the bench against United. He might be even more useful in the starting XI.


Another Kelleher contribution

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 10, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher walks out for the warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This game was Caoimhin Kelleher‘s 24th appearance for Liverpool this season, meaning he has now made as many as Alisson.

As per Liverpool stats guru Michael Reid, it is only the second time in the club’s history that two different goalkeepers have played this many times in a season, after 1988/89 (Grobbelaar 28, Hooper 25).

The Corkman was called into action within the first minute to save from James McAtee at the far post.

Liverpool have had to come from behind to win on seven occasions in the Premier League this season, and this save was important in preventing another such scenario.

The important save at the start of the half was followed up by another one at the end of it, this time from Jayden Bogle.

There wasn’t much he could do about the goal, and otherwise he was arguably as important to the win as Mac Allister.


United again

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Manchester United's captain Bruno Fernandes shakes hands with Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk before the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Man Utd won 4-3 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Attention now turns to another big game against Man United on Sunday.

The FA Cup defeat is still very fresh in the memory, but this is another type of must-win game. It goes without saying that Liverpool need another win to maintain their advantage in the title race.

And there is still pressure on Erik ten Hag at United, especially after their ridiculous 4-3 defeat to Chelsea and the manner of conceding two goals after 100 minutes.

Mohamed Salah exited this game against Sheffield United on the hour mark. Presumably it was a pre-planned sub as at that time Liverpool needed a goal.

It worked out well in the end, as did some minutes under the belt for Gravenberch and Jones.

A goal from Cody Gakpo was a nice bonus, and adds some more confidence to the forward ranks.

Andy Robertson‘s impact from the bench could well see him get the nod on Sunday, perhaps in place of young Conor Bradley.