Liverpool return to Anfield to face winless Sheffield United this weekend and Simon Mail expects the champions to outscore their opponents...
"Liverpool have won their last three Premier League games against Sheffield United and it is hard to quibble with short odds on a home victory."
Liverpool v Sheffield United
Live on Sky Sports Box Office
Liverpool must overcome loss of Van Dijk
Liverpool were in a class of their own last season, landing a long-awaited Premier League title and finishing 18 points ahead of their nearest challengers. Jurgen Klopp's side have already displayed more frailties this season than during the whole of the last campaign and the loss of Virgil van Dijk is a huge blow to their hopes of a successful title defence.
The world class centre-back is irreplaceable but Liverpool will have to find a way to cope as the serious knee injury suffered in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Everton could see him miss the rest of the season. Defensive worries were already surfacing following goalkeeper Alisson's injury lay-off and Liverpool's shocking 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa earlier this month. Fabinho was their standout performer as he slotted into their defence on Wednesday night for their 1-0 win at Ajax in their Champions League opener.
Blades stop rot but still winless
Sheffield United were outstanding in their first season back in the top flight with Chris Wilder steering the team to ninth in the Premier League. The Blades were a constant feature in the top half of the table and their impressive defence laid the foundations for their success following promotion. It was always likely to be difficult to replicate this and this has certainly proved the case with a winless start to the season.
With just one point from five games, Sheffield United are second bottom and games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea over the next fortnight offer little in the way of respite. Wilder's side stopped the rot last weekend but needed a late Billy Sharp penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw against 20th placed Fulham. Sheffield United are the lowest scorers in the division, with just two goals, but former Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster is in line to make his full debut against his previous club this weekend after his recent move.
Liverpool too short to back as favourites
Liverpool are overwhelming favourites for this weekend's game with odds of 1.282/7 underlining the size of the task facing their opponents. The hosts have a stunning record at Anfield, winning 27 of their last 28 league matches. Liverpool have also won their last three Premier League games against Sheffield United and it is hard to quibble with short odds on a home victory.
Sheffield United have yet to lead any league game this season and it is easy to see why the Blades can be backed at 13.012/1 to pull off a victory this weekend. Their attacking weaknesses have been their downfall since the start of the season and it just does not look realistic to expect them to get off the mark with a shock win at Liverpool.
The draw is trading at 6.86/1 but Liverpool's formidable home record suggests this is highly unlikely. Sheffield United would be delighted to pick up their first away point but keeping the champions' attack at bay is a huge task. Liverpool are strongly fancied to win but are not an appealing betting proposition at the odds so it is necessary to look at alternative markets.
Liverpool have scored 162 goals in their last 61 home league games and the front line of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino is one of the most potent attacks in Europe. It is tempting to back Liverpool and over 2.5 goals but this is still only 4/6 and Sheffield United have yet to concede more than twice in a game this season.
It is likely Liverpool will dominate this match and their pressure should pay off. With so much attacking talent, Klopp's side should boss possession and lead the corner count. Liverpool had at least seven corners during their home wins over Leeds and Arsenal.
Sheffield United will be on the defensive for much of the game and it would be no surprise if the visitors picked up the most cards during the game. Backing Liverpool to win, with the hosts earning the most corners and Sheffield United receiving more cards enhances the odds to a much more appealing 7/5 using the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi option.
Since having their league title win confirmed last season, Liverpool have conceded 25 goals in 12 Premier League games - no side has conceded more. Their previous 25 league goals conceded had come across a period of 38 games. Sheffield United are 4/6 to score at Anfield this weekend.
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Simon: Backing Liverpool to win, over 2.5 goals and Mohamed Salah to score is a tempting option at 2.19.