They were made to work for it – but Liverpool’s staggering unbeaten run at Anfield rolls on following their comeback victory against Sheffield United on Saturday.
Goals from Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota in a 2-1 win over the Blades ensured the Reds avoided a first three-match winless sequence in the Premier League since May 2018.
After a 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa and a 2-2 draw against Everton in the Merseyside derby, there may have been concern on the sidelines as the Blades took a 13th-minute lead at Anfield.
But there is a reason Jurgen Klopp’s side have now amassed a 62-game unbeaten home league run.
The Reds, without injured defensive stalwart Virgil van Dijk, have now won 28 of their past 29 league games at Anfield – while they are also unbeaten in their past 13 at home when they have conceded the first goal.
“I love these games. You have to work hard. You earn the easier games when it goes your way on nights like this,” said Liverpool manager Klopp.
“You always have to work hard against Sheffield United. It’s hard to take for Chris Wilder. They never give up, I respect that so much. They go and go and go. Chris is doing a wonderful job.”
Reds coping without Van Dijk
With Van Dijk potentially out for the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage in a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, it falls to centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, along with defensive midfielder Fabinho, to hold the fort.
Brazil midfielder Fabinho again deputised in central defence alongside Gomez, as he did in their 1-0 Champions League win over Ajax on Wednesday, but despite that excellent display he was at fault for the opener as he fouled Oliver McBurnie marginally inside the penalty area.
“Fabinho has played there before and can do a good job but he is not going to replace Van Dijk because no-one can do that. But he will do well,” former Premier League defender Micah Richards told BBC Match of the Day.
Liverpool have already conceded 14 goals in their first six Premier League games this season – a mark it took them 15 games to reach in 2019-20.
Captain Jordan Henderson said: “It was hard as expected, they are a good side who work really hard.
“McBurnie was very good in the air so it was hard for the lads at the back but they coped and worked it out better in the second half. We should have killed the game off with another goal or two.
“I am only interested in the mentality in our changing room and I see hunger, resilience, character to dig in and win if you are not playing at your best. We showed we can dig in and see results out.”
Were Liverpool fortunate?
The win moved Liverpool level on points with Merseyside neighbours Everton – who have a game in hand – at the top of the table, but they had to ride their luck at times against a spirited Blades side.
United were full of energy in the early stages and had two more penalty appeals turned down in the first half, one for a handball by Andrew Robertson and another for a challenge on McBurnie.
“We could have been given another, but it wasn’t to be,” boss Chris Wilder said.
“You are not expected to dominate at Anfield, but we did more than enough to get something from it. We took the game to our opponents.”
While full of praise for Wilder’s team, Klopp disagreed with the decision to award the visitors a spot-kick for Fabinho’s challenge on McBurnie.
“It was not even a foul,” he said. “During a season there are so many different periods. We have had an injustice and we have had to go again.
“It is now the sixth game in the season and in three of them we are on the wrong end of this kind of decision. It is not that we want to have an advantage, we just don’t want to have any disadvantages. The penalty we conceded gave Sheffield a proper boost.”