This was not a nice Saturday lunchtime performance from Liverpool at Bramall Lane.
A “win is a win” and “you have to win ugly, sometimes,” but I don’t remember the Anfield side having to slug out a game as much as we did today for quite some time.
It says everything about the fixture that this was the first time in nearly six months that none of the Reds’ front three registered on the scoresheet, with both Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah squandering big chances to do so. In fact, it took more than seventy minutes for one of the trio to even find a shot on target.
As it was, Jürgen Klopp’s side’s winning — and only — goal came when a tame Gini Wijnaldum volley squirmed under Dean Henderson’s body, and into the Sheffield United net.
Still, the 1-0 victory in South Yorkshire sees 19/20 Liverpool become only the second team in Premier League history to start a season with seven successive wins. And with that, the Reds’ lead at the top is extended to eight points — until 5:30pm, at least.
But in a backs to the wall performance, did anyone perform well individually? I had a look at the ratings.
Adrián 6.5 — Assured in net, but repeatedly kicked the ball out for throw-ins late on.
Trent 5.5 — Absolutely woeful in possession at times. Worst performance in a long time.
Matip 6.5 — Looked less comfortable than he has all season, with a return of the signs of physical awkwardness we used to associate with the Cameroonian.
Virgil 8.5 — Sheffield United tended to look to go long and direct, which gave van Dijk the chance to win header, after header, after interception, after header. Man of the Match.
Robbo 6 — Slightly better than Trent, but also disappointing on the ball.
Hendo 6 — Had little positive impact on the game. Delivery from deep was worse than usual.
Fabinho 7 — Comfortably the best of Liverpool’s midfield three, if not at his unrelenting best.
Gini 6 — Very fortunate with the goal. It was one of those games where Gini failed to progress the ball as much as one would hope.
Salah 6.5 — Most dangerous of Liverpool’s front three, but messed up a one-on-one late on, which would have sealed the game.
Bobby 6 — Anonymous in the first half, until he decided not to shoot, but play in Mané when the Reds had a late first half overload. Right decision? Maybe not, but Mané still should have buried the chance.
Mané 5.5 — Poor finishing when presented with two big opportunities in the first half. Should have won a penalty in the second half, but maybe was a victim of his own honesty in not rolling around after the contact.
Origi 7 — Sparked an offensive light for the Reds, and came close at the near post after a ridiculous piece of trickery.
Milner 6 — Has a tendency to look lost, initially, when coming on as a substitute into a high-intensity game.
Oxlade-Chamberlain N/A — Was on the pitch for a matter of seconds.