Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Sheffield United

Premier League roundtable
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The hectic holiday period has but one day — and one game — left before Premier League clubs get a weekend off turn their attention to the FA Cup this weekend. Leaders Liverpool can re-establish their 13-point lead, with a game in hand, on second-place Leicester City with a win over the 2019-20 season’s most surprising side thus far, 8th-place Sheffield United, at Anfield (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Leicester cut Liverpool’s lead down to 10 points with their 3-0 dismantling of Newcastle United on Wednesday, while Manchester City trimmed their own deficit to 11 points with their 2-1 win over Everton.

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With 55 points (out of 57) from their first 19 games, Liverpool are on pace (109) to not only break, but shatter, Man City’s single-season points record (100) from two seasons ago.

As for Sheffield United, the Blades will be aiming to replicate their strong first half of the season and become the latest newly promoted side to crack the PL’s top-half in season no. 1. Wolverhampton Wanderers finished seventh last season; with Norwich City (20th) and Aston Villa (17th) mired at the bottom of the table, it is solely up to Sheffield United to carry the flag for the Championship graduates.

Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT – Fabinho (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle), Joel Matip (knee), Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Nathaniel Clyne (knee)

Sheffield Utd: OUT – John Lundstram (ankle)


Projected lineups

Liverpool: Alisson — Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson — Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita — Salah, Firmino, Mane

Sheffield Utd: Henderson — Basham, Egan, O’Connell — Baldock, Besic, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens — Robinson, Mousset


What they’re saying

Adam Lallana, on finishing the job: “We can’t take our foot off the gas. We want to maintain that form going into the new year and keep Anfield a fortress.”

Muhamed Besic, on bouncing back quickly: “We have to concentrate now on recovering and then go again against Liverpool. We are a really, really great group. We all stick together. We just look at ourselves (and not the opponent) … We will not change our style of play. We will just go again.”


Prediction

An early Liverpool goal will draw the Blades more and more open, which is the absolute last place any side — let alone a newly promoted one like Sheffield United — want to be. Liverpool 2-0 Sheffield United.