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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Feel Good Win Against Sheffield United

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We we take a closer look at some of the whys and hows of the match as the Reds cruised to a 2-0 win

Sheffield United v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Lee Smith - Pool/Getty Images

Liverpool have had some decent performances of late, but have failed to capitalize, or have even capitulated. Today, the Reds finally put together a relatively dominant and positive performance all around. It’s been a while since Liverpool have managed 3 points and a clean sheet (in the league).

Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.


Winners

Curtis Jones
The Scouser has quietly become one of the positive forces in this side. He was stellar yet again today, making some driving runs with and without the ball. He got on the end of several nice plays, and led the team with 4 shots, placing 3 of them on net. He opened the scoring for the Reds, calmly smashing the ball to the far post after the ball rebounded to him near the penalty spot. Curtis was also his usual efficient self passing, completing over 96% of his passes. Most importantly, CuJo seems to be a great teammate. In his post-match interview, Curtis dedicated his goal to Alisson Becker’s father, who passed away earlier in the week.

Roberto Firmino
The Brazilian forward has struggled to finish his chances. He had yet another great chance, set through on goal early in the match, but he couldn’t find the corner and smashed it too close to the keeper. Despite his issues with finishing, Bobby has still managed to create opportunities for himself and others at a good clip. He provided a perfectly cushioned volley to Mohamed Salah that almost led to a goal. Bobby also found the back of the net, albeit with the help of a big deflection. While it went down as an own goal, he started the move from outside the box with some fancy footwork, and then one-upped himself after receiving the ball inside the box with three defenders around him. His moment of magic created the opportunity, and he deserves plenty of credit for the goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold
The OTHER Scouser in the team seems to have found his swagger again. Trent was pinging the ball all over the field today, playing some aggressive and ambitious passes that served the ball up to the attackers in great spots. He was the creative hub for the team, and had the most touches of anyone on the field. Trent has also been more willing to drive forward with the ball, and it has led to some great chances on goal. He forced a good save from Aaron Ramsey after smashing a left-footed shot from inside the box. Trent also created the opportunity for the first goal by making a great hustle play. He sprinted after a loose ball, and managed to hit it just before it fully crossed over the line, and played it into a dangerous area in the box.

Makeshift Defense
While there were a lot of good performances today, it should be noted that Liverpool managed to keep a clean sheet despite fielding yet another starting center back pairing in front of the third-string keeper. It wasn’t always pretty, but Nat Phillips, Ozan Kabak, and Adrian did enough to keep the ball out of the net. Phillips was a monster in the air again, winning 7 headers. Kabak won 6 headers himself, and also made some very timely tackles inside the box. Adrian did well coming out to punch the ball away on corners, and stood tall to snuff out a late opportunity.

Losers

Sadio Mané’s Offensive Output
Let’s be honest, this is super nit-picky, so feel free to get annoyed at me in the comments. I absolutely adore Sadio, and think he had a pretty solid game over all. He did some great defensive work, and fought for every ball that was played in his general vicinity while getting hacked at all game long. Still, the timing and location of his runs just seems a little off. I’m thinking it could partly be due to Curtis Jones playing a much more adventurous midfield role on the left, which is changing the angles for Sadio. Still, in a game where Liverpool managed to get 16 shots off, none of them came from the Senegalese forward.


Dissecting The Narrative

The Unlucky Liverpool Narrative
Despite feeling good, there were still some elements of luck that needed to go Liverpool’s way today on both goals. Last season, the Reds seemed to get the ball to bounce just the right way, or managed to get a boarderline call in their favor whenever the game was in the balance. This season, it has been tough sledding with VAR, deflections, and really anything even remotely related to being lucky.

Today, Liverpool needed some luck, and finally got it. They needed a VAR review to go their way on the first goal, and finally got one. On the second goal, Firmino’s shot seemed destined to skew well wide of the far post, but a generous deflection, that was later classified as an own goal, helped steer the ball into the net. So, for at least one game this season, Liverpool fans can’t claim to be unlucky. Soz.


What Happens Next

Liverpool have a big match in the race for the top four against a resurgent Chelsea side at Anfield on Thursday. A win would vault Liverpool past both Chelsea and West Ham into the 4th spot in the table.