Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool: The Talking Points
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield identifies some of the talking points to emerge from today's game against Liverpool.
GREAT RESULT BUT TREND MUST BE ADDRESSED:
Chris Wilder said this was an opportunity missed to beat the Premier League leaders and, in a sense, he was right. But when the dust settles on today's fixture, and his disappointment subsides, the Sheffield United manager will be encouraged by the performance his team produced here. The only shame was, and not for the first time this season, an individual error cost them dear. Dean Henderson knows he should have kept Georginio Wijnaldum's shot out of the net. That is a trend United really must address.
EXCELLENT OFF THE BALL:
United's shape when out of possession was superb and helped ensure on the of most feared attacking trios in European football was kept quiet for most of the afternoon. Liverpool saw plenty of the ball but actually did very little with it as the hosts squeezed space, closed-off potential pass options and drove forward when they could. Which, after a tough opening spell, was pretty much all afternoon.
A TELLING DISPLAY:
The fact Virgil van Dijk impressed was not a surprise. After all, until recently, he was the most expensive defender in world football. The fact he was Liverpool's best player spoke volumes about United's determination to attack and pose questions rather than simply soak up pressure. The Dutchman made two vital interceptions at the beginning of the second-half, as Wilder's men really tested Liverpool's resolve.
The introduction of Lys Mousset changed the dynamic of the game and helped, after Callum Robinson's tireless shift, ensure United continued to play with Liverpool's minds. Urged upfield by their manager Klopp, before Wijnaldum opened the scoring in fortuitous fashion, the Frenchman's presence and pace meant Van Dijk and Joel Matip never looked comfortably edging up the half way line.
Wilder said his players "deserved" the crowd's "100 per cent backing" before the match. That was what Henderson got after the mistake which saw Wijnaldum break the deadlock at precisely the moment United appeared destined to take complete charge. As the away fans celebrated, those in The Kop began chanting the goalkeeper's name. Henderson then showed his character by making a great block to deny Mo Salah.