Liverpool vs Sheffield United Preview: Can Blades slow Reds' march?
(Photo by Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool will look to extend their winning streak to 11 matches when they host the impressive Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday night.

The Reds, having edged past Wolves last time out, can re-establish their 13-point lead at the top of the table with victory.

An additional incentive is the possibility of completing a remarkable 12-month league unbeaten run, stretching back to the defeat at Manchester City on 3 January, 2019. 

However, they will not except to simply sweep aside a Sheffield United outfit who were only narrowly beaten in their last meeting.

Had Dean Henderson not let Georginio Wijnaldum's volley slip through his fingers, the Blades would have taken a point.

Their defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday was their first on the road this season, further underlining the challenge they pose.

They could climb above Manchester United and Spurs and move into fifth with a historic win. 

This is their first trip to Anfield since February 2007, when Robbie Fowler was among the goals as Liverpool won 4-0.

Team news

There are no new injury concerns for Jurgen Klopp, only ongoing absentees.

Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip's respective muscle and knee injuries mean Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk will continue in the heart of defence.

In midfield, Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (both ankle) remain sidelined, while Xherdan Shaqiri is still recovering from the hamstring problem which kept him out of the game against Wolves.

They are all expected to be training again by the end of this month.

The only concern for Chris Wilder in the opposing dugout is the fitness of midfielder John Lundstram, who missed the loss at the Etihad with a minor ankle injury. 

Both managers will likely go full-strength at the end of a punishing festive period, with the opportunity to rest key players on the horizon in the FA Cup.

Predicted line-ups

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Sheffield Utd (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Freeman, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrick. 

Key clash

Jack O'Connell and Enda Stevens vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

In preparation for this game, United will have had little choice but to devise a plan to contain the attacking threat posed by Alexander-Arnold. 

The outstanding right-back has laid-on 10 assists already this season with his pinpoint deliveries from wide areas, a tally eclipsed only by Kevin de Bruyne.

Wilder's centre-backs, of course, are given licence to overlap but their formation will also allow them to double-up on Alexander-Arnold in the final third.

Restricting his space, and his link-up with Mohamed Salah, will be vital to their chances of picking up points.

Chris Basham and George Baldock face a similar battle with Andrew Robertson down the left.

The managers

Jurgen Klopp has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that Liverpool have one hand on the Premier League trophy and is hopeful an awareness of Sheffield United's threat keeps his players focused.

"The world we live in means that we are constantly presented with invitations to see conclusions where there are none," he wrote in his programme notes.

"For the players, my staff and I, it is very easy to maintain the concentration we need because of how hard the challenges we face are.

"How do you stay focused? That's easy - look at how strong Sheffield United are. If you were in danger of distraction, spending time analysing our opponents soon sharpens the senses."

Chris Wilder, meanwhile, is relishing the toughest test in the division.

"It will be an amazing experience to face off against them, we have to work hard to make sure this is a fixture every year going forward."

VAVEL Logo