Liverpool vs. Sheffield United: Premier League Matchday 30 Preview

The Premier League title race continues to be as tight as ever, and the Reds will need every point they can get before a tough stretch of fixtures.
Liverpool FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

After Arsenal and Manchester City both won their own midweek league fixtures, the Reds are down to second in the table- but only momentarily if all goes well against Sheffield United this Thursday.

We're getting down to the endgame now, and even though the squad is getting healthier, Jürgen Klopp still has to be extremely careful as he balances rest for key players with earning every single point in league play, with no margin for error.

Let's take a look at what we can expect from his Liverpool squad as they host the dead-last side in the table.

Top of the Pitch

Mo Salah was back on the scoresheet with a vital winner against Brighton, and he could have had a couple of more goals and a magnificent assist if not for some poor luck in terms of finishing and offsides.

Still, it was a massively encouraging performance for the Egyptian King, who played 90 minutes as he continues to ramp up to full fitness.

Luis Díaz also finally put his striker's boots on, scoring a nice equalizer for his first League goal since February 21st against Luton Town; he may or may not be in the lineup again, as Klopp might want to keep building his confidence, but rest ahead of a pivotal fixture at Manchester United might be more important.

Darwin Nunez could be the one who sits down to start this one, although he could certainly use a confidence game to get back into the form he was flashing ahead of the international break.

Regardless of who gets the rest day, certainly expect Cody Gakpo to step in and do his best to contribute against a lesser opponent.

Truly, there is no lesser opponent than Sheffield, at least defensively; their 2.7 goals conceded per match is the worst number in the Premier League, and their xG conceded is nearly the league's worst also.

Centre-back Jack Robinson is their highest rated full-time defender on FotMob, and his average match score is only 6.45, a scathing indictment on the state of this back line.

The Midfield

After picking up a bit of a knock in the Brighton match, Wataru Endō could be entirely unavailable for this match. Even if he is technically fit to play, with some depth returning to the midfield group, don't expect him to be forced into a big role against a side like Sheffield.

Instead, we can look forward to the return of Curtis Jones, who hasn't played a full 90 minutes since February 10th, and could be available for a shorter appearance on Thursday.

As far as starters, Ryan Gravenberch returned to the pitch for just a minute against Brighton, and could possibly give an hour, Alexis Mac Allister will likely be given a chance to continue his excellent form.

For the final midfield spot, a combination of Harvey Elliott and Dominik Szoboszlai could be used, in order to keep everyone warmed up for the weekend and still fresh enough to contribute fully.

Sheffield is the very worst team in the Premier League in terms of possession, with a dismal average rate of 35%. Central midfielder Gustavo Hamer has been a bit of a bright spot, leading the team with a FotMob rating of 6.99 in league play, but there's not much else to write home about with this group.

The Back End

Could we see a rest day for Virgil van Dijk? The captain famously played every minute of the iconic 2019-20 Premier League title run, but he's an older player now, one who's dealt with an ACL surgery.

Don't be shocked if some combination of Jarell Quansah, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté forms the centre-back duo, with all players expected to be healthy and ready to go.

On the outside, we'll see another Conor Bradley start as Trent Alexander-Arnold isn't ready to go just yet, and if Gomez plays in the middle, that would leave Andy Robertson to make his first appearance since picking up an injury over the international break.

Sheffield is also dead last in the Premier League in terms of goals scored per game, and they're led by Oliver McBurnie with just five goals. They're actually 19th in big chances and 18th in accurate long balls per match, so perhaps there's some life in this position group after all.