Sheffield United receive a message from Anfield ahead of Liverpool clash
Sheffield United have been warned they will face a fully-focused Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday, despite Jurgen Klopp’s team opening up a 13 point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Although the title appears destined for Merseyside, defender Virgil van Dijk insisted the reigning European and World Cup champions are not being distracted by talk of a procession ahead of their meeting with the visitors from Bramall Lane.
Revealing that finishing as runners-up behind Manchester City last season has made Liverpool even more determined this term, the Dutchman said: “We came very close. Unfortunately City were just a little bit better but that spurred us on to try even harder this year and so we have been winning games, grinding games out and playing good football at times.
“We enjoy the hard work too, so that is very good. Hopefully we can just keep going doing that and just be hungry for that as well. We are halfway through now and we hope to finish the season on a high. So for that we have to focus on the game ahead of us.”
United will be seeking to inflict Liverpool’s first defeat in the competition since City’s 2-1 triumph at the Etihad Stadium on January 3rd when they cross the Pennines. Wilder’s men were also beaten by Pep Guardiola’s side last time out, albeit in controversial circumstances following two contentious VAR decisions.
But United will be encouraged by their performance when Liverpool travelled to South Yorkshire in September, when it required a fortuitous goal by Georginio Wijnaldum to separate the two clubs.
“Obviously last year we have seen that anything can happen and this year we just focus on the game ahead of us,” van Dijk continued. “We will see at the end when it will be decided, hopefully in our favour.”
Although Klopp could rotate his squad for the meeting with United, Wilder is expected to name a full-strength starting eleven if John Lundstram recovers from injury. The midfielder had featured in all of United’s top-flight outings this season before being forced to sit-out to clash with City.
“We should be learning from what happened last year,” van Dijk said. “I feel that is definitely what has been going on. The whole experience has been helping us on our journey.”