It’s a new era at Anfield, with the injury to Liverpool’s star defender Virgil Van Dijk lengthening their chances of a clean-sheet win. In any case, five of Liverpool’s last seven Premier League (PL) home wins have seen both teams score, with four seeing the sides exchange the first two match goals inside the opening 30 minutes of play alone.
The potential impact of Van Dijk’s absence is reflected in key numbers. Liverpool has a win rate of 70.00% from games featuring the Dutchman since his arrival, which compares starkly to a rate of 50.00% without. Furthermore, the Reds have conceded just 1.05 goals per match with him in the side, versus 1.43 without him.
Despite taking just one away point from the last 21 available, Sheffield United will be eager to capitalize on a weakened Reds backline. Yet, all three of their prior visits to Anfield this century have yielded defeats to nil by an average margin of 2.67 goals, with the ‘Blades’ losing both halves by an equal margin in both league defeats.
That average is only narrowly above 2.33 – as recorded across a trio of PL away defeats suffered last season against the eventual top three. The two most recent matches in that group saw the ‘Blades’ concede inside the opening ten minutes
Players to watch: Netting 2+ goals in three of his last four goalscoring outings, Mohammed Salah scored inside the first four minutes of this H2H back in January (W 2-0). Seven (63.64%) of his last 11 decisive PL match-winners have come during victories by a two-goal margin.
A late penalty from Billy Sharp gave Sheffield United their first point of the season last weekend. In turn, three of his four prior PL goals for the ‘Blades’ have been the last of their respective games.
Hot stat: Liverpool’s tally of 13 conceded goals after five league rounds (2.60 on average) is their worst five-game defensive start in the PL era (1992-present).