An email: “I assume that we will see those fine sportsmen from Liverpool vociferously protesting that the Blades should get a penalty for that trip,” writes Jonathan Leiper. “Given that they have invested so much emotional capital in Mane’s offside and all that.”
Sheffield United have been excellent in that first half, with George Baldock standing out in a team full of players who are having good games. How on earth have they only got one point from their first five games?
Half-time: Liverpool 1-1 Sheffield United
Peep! The sides traipse off with a goal apiece. Liverpool started in the ascendency but went behind after Sander Berge slotted home a penalty awarded when Fabinho was penalised for a fould on John Lundstram right on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area. Bobby Firmino equalised for Liverpool shortly before the break, tapping into an empty goal after Sadio Mane had forced Aaron Ramsdale into a decent save.
45 min: Another cross from Baldock is cleared by Fabinho, as Lundstram charges into the Liverpool penalty area with a late run. The ball drops for Basham, whose shot is blocked.
43 min: A tip of the hat to Jordan Henderson for his role in the build-up to that goal. His cross from the right touchline was a beauty and at the far post, Mane got a powerful header on the ball. Ramsdale kept it out but couldn’t hold on to it and Firmino’s task couldn’t have been simpler.
GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Sheffield United (Firmino 41)
The sides are level. Roberto Firmino taps in from a few yards out on the follow-up after Aaron Ramsdale could only parry a Sadio Mane header from point-blank range.
40 min: Yup, replays show that Jota tripped Berge but no spot-kick was awarded. Perhaps Andre Marriner and his VAR officials have gone for their half-time cuppa early.
38 min: Chris Basham intercepts a cross from Firmino from the left, with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson lurking with intent behind him. Moments previously, Sander Berge was denied what looked a clear penalty for a trip on him by Diogo Jota inside the Liverpool penalty area.
34 min: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson aren’t getting forward down the wings as much as usual this evening, with Sheffield United’s wing-backs keeping them pinned back as much as possible and forcing them to play the ball inside. As I type that, young Trent makes an eejit of me by getting forward and playing a raking pass into the Sheffield United penalty area, where Mo Salah tries to lift the ball over Aaron Ramsdale. Enda Stevens does well to distract him and the ball goes out for a corner from which nothing comes.
32 min: Joe Gomez plays a wonderful crossfield pass to Mo Salah on the right flank and the Egyptian jinks inside. He runs into traffic, turns and tees the ball up for Jordan Henderson, whose shot from just outside the penalty area is blocked by Enda Stevens.
30 min: Liverpool get the ball back to Alisson courtesy of headers from Fabinho and Robertson, while Rhian Brewster tracks both players waiting to pounce on any mistakes.
28 min: Nothing much to report as the game settles into something of a lull following periods of dominance from both sides.
24 min: Sheffield United have certainly found their groove now. A crossfield pass from George Baldock is caught on the volley by Ben Osborn. His ferocious rasper from about 12 yards is saved by Alisson.
23 min: Replays of that most recent Sheffield United penalty appeal show that George Baldock’s cross from the right definitely struck Andy Robertson’s arm. It wasn’t outstretched or in an “unnatural” position, which is probably why no spot-kick was awarded.
20 min: Oli McBurnie squanders a glorious chance to put Sheffield United two up after beating the Liverpool offside trap, running on to a glorious cross-field pass, controlling with a wonderful first touch and then sidefooting wide of the far post from a narrow angle.
17 min: Diogo Jota drifts into the centre from the right and picks out Salah with a pass before being fouled. Free-kick for Liverpool, in line with the right side of the United penalty area, a long way out. Trent Alexander-Arnold sends the ball into the penalty area, it finds its way to Gini Wijnaldum and he shoots high and wide.
14 min: Fabinho looks very aggrieved about that penalty decision that went against him. He stuck his foot in right on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area, getting a little bit of ball and a little bit of John Lundstram’s foot. Mike Dean didn’t consult his pitchside monitor, choosing to take his VAR official Andre Marriner’s word for that the Brazilian had committed the foul.
GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Sheffield Unitd (Berge 13)
Sheffield United lead! Alisson dives to his right, Sander Berge shoots down the middle.
Penalty for Sheffield United
Mike Dean signals for a penalty following a consultation with his VAR official.
9 min: John Lundstram is tackled by Fabinho on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area and goes down. That might be a penalty.
8 min: Liverpool have settled into the game quickly and are bossing the game, while Sheffield United have yet to find anything resembling a groove.
6 min: The foul that led to that free-kick was a daft one by John Lundstram on Mo Salah, which earned the Sheffield United midfielder a yellow card and almost cost his team a goal.
3 min: Liverpool win a free-kick inside their own half and Trent Alexander-Armstrong spots Ramsdale off his line and shoots for goal. The Sheffield United is almost embarrassed but backpedals furously enough to stretch and tip the ball over his crossbar. That was a great effort from Alexander-Arnold. Nothing comes from the corner.
2 min: John Egan is forced to slide in and prevent the ball reaching Mo Salah in front of an empty net after Aaron Ramsdale charged off his line to chase a long ball from Andy Robertson. Sadio Mane got to it first and squared it, only for Egan to get back and intercept.
Liverpool v Sheffield United is go!
1 min: Sheffield United get the ball rolling, their players wearing green shirts, yellow shorts and yellow socks. Liverpool’s players wear their usual home kit of red shirts, shorts and socks.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch, Sheffield United trouping out first, closely followed by Liverpool. Alisson points to the sky, getting a quick prayer in before lining up with his team-mates in a socially responsible fashion. It’s all about the optics – they’ll be getting up close and personal in just a minute or so.
Jurgen Klopp speaks: “Having ALisson back is good news,” says Liverpool’s manager, upon being asked the alarmingly stupid question: is having Alisson back good news. “It was his decision and he’s old enough and experienced enough to make it.”
Chris Wilder: “He’s a talented young player and we’re delighted we brought him to the football club,” says Sheffield United’s gaffer upon being asked about Rhian Brewster. “I’m looking forward to watching him play tonight.
Elsewhere in the Premier league
In torrential rain, Manchester United and Chelsea have just played out a very boring stalemate in a match both managers seemed more intent on not losing than winning. Manchester United were lucky to survive a first-half penalty shout, when Harry Maguire clearly grappled Cesar Azpilicueta at a corner.
Those teams: Jurgen Klopp makes three changes to the side that drew with Everton last weekend, two of them enforced. Gini Wijnaldum comes into midfield in place of Fabinho, who drops to fill the Virgil van Dijk-shaped hole in Liverpool’s defence alongside Joe Gomez. Thiago Alcantara has not recovered sufficiently to make the matchday squad, which means Diogo Jota is in. Joel Matip is also out injured, but Alisson returns to the side.
A liverpool player until recently, Rhian Brewster makes his full debut for Sheffield United. Max Lowe appears to have been stood down after suffering a blow to the head against Fulham last week, while Oliver Norwood drops to the bench. Ethan Ampadu and Ben Osborn come into the side.
Liverpool v Sheffield United line-ups
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Jota, Mane.
Subs: Adrian, Milner, Jones, Minamino, Shaqiri, Phillips, Williams.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Baldock, Basham, Egan, Ampadu, Stevens, Berge, Lundstram, Osborn, McBurnie, Brewster.
Subs: Verrips, Sharp, Burke, Jagielka, Norwood, McGoldrick, Robinson.
Early Sheffield United team news
Having scored just twice in five Premier League thus far, Sheffield United are in dire need of goals and former Liverpool player Rhian Brewster could be the man to provide them if he is handed his full debut for the club following his recent move. Left-back Max Lowe got a bang on the head against Fulham last week and was due to be assessed before the blades boarded their bus to Merseyside.
Early Liverpool team news
It’s flown below the radar so you may have missed the news, but Liverpool are going to be without Virgil van Dijk for the foreseeable future after he tore his ACL during last weekend’s Merseyside derby. The victim of an ludicrous Jordan Pickford challenge that went unpunished and has prompted no end of Liverpool supporters to call for the Everton goalkeeper to be brought to the Hague and tried for crimes against humanity, Van Dijk could miss the rest of the season and we wish him well as begins his recovery.
Also clattered in that game, Thiago Alcantara will be assessed before kick-off. Having been out with a shoulder injury, Alisson Becker is reported to be returning to full fitness and may return tonight. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and defender Konstantinos Tsimikas are both out, while Naby Keita and Joel Matip are major doubts.
Premier League: Liverpool v Sheffield United
Sheffield United’s bad start to the season could be about to get a whole lot worse as they travel to Anfield to take on the reigning champions. A revelation last season following their promotion from the Championship, Chris Wilder’s side picked up their first point of the current campaign in a slightly fortuitous draw against fellow strugglers Fulham last weekend.
They’ll have their work cut out to take anything home today, but will fancy their chances against a team that have been imperious at times, but occasionally bang average and – against Aston Villa – downright awful. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST), but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.