After a turbulent week, champions Liverpool snapped a four-match losing streak to move to within two points of the Premier League’s top four.
Following the death of goalkeeper Alisson’s father, Jurgen Klopp’s men produced a spirited performance, albeit they were made to work hard by the battling Blades.
A Curtis Jones strike and an own goal from Kean Bryan, earned Liverpool a huge three points to set them up nicely for Thursday’s crunch match with fellow top four rivals Chelsea.
Chris Wilder’s side started the brighter of the two teams as striker David McGoldrick’s powerful header was saved strongly by Liverpool stand in keeper Adrián.
The Anfield outfit eventually settled into the game as Mo Salah teed up Bobby Firmino who could only shoot straight down the barrel at United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Liverpool continued to create chances as Salah dribbled his way into the penalty area only for his weak effort to be saved by Ramsdale’s outstretched boot.
Trent Alexander-Arnold nearly broke the deadlock, as Blades defender Ethan Ampadu squandered possession in his own penalty area, only for the full back’s fierce left-footed drive to be palmed over the bar by Ramsdale.
Captain on the night, Gini Wijnaldum, then fired a powerful effort towards the bottom corner only to be denied by the in-form Blades stopper.
Although they had huffed and puffed, Liverpool again went into half-time unable to break their first half goal scoring drought.
Following the restart, Liverpool wasted little time in getting their noses in front as local boy Jones slammed into the bottom corner to give his side the breakthrough.
Klopp and his playing staff then looked on nervously as VAR checks on the goal were administered. Luckily, a goal was given and Liverpool never looked like surrendering their advantage.
Sadio Mane then teed up Firmino with a classy one-two and a lucky deflection off Bryan saw the ball loop over a helpless Ramsdale who was rooted to the spot.
With a vital clean sheet in the bag, Klopp’s players left Bramall Lane all smiles after a good day’s work.
At only 20 years of age, Jones looks mature beyond his years. His well taken goal swung the pendulum in Liverpool’s favour and he is becoming a crucial player for Klopp.
The Englishman is the odd ray of sunlight in an otherwise disappointing season for the champions.
Thoroughly deserved his man of the match award.
Centre backs Nat Philipps and new boy Ozan Kabak were impressive, suggesting a much better defensive understanding, when natural defenders are called upon.
The clean sheet was sound proof of this, although much better opponents will test them in the future, than bottom of the table Sheffield United, respectively.
Goalkeeper Adrián may have dropped to third choice behind Alisson and Caoimhin Kelleher in the pecking order, but the Spaniard put on an impressive showing.
Alexander-Arnold also looked back to his best. We saw the same against Spurs a few weeks ago and then the youngster’s level dropped. Liverpool fans will be hoping he can maintain his form for the rest of the season.
Winning for Alisson
Having lost his father in tragic circumstances, Alisson missed the game against Sheffield United to be with his wife and children.
Liverpool’s players looked determined from the off to pay tribute to Alisson’s father, as Jones scored and dedicated the win in his memory.
Manager Klopp also lost his mother recently, as Covid-19 continues to cause heartache to families unable to pay tribute to their loved ones.
From both the footballing and emotional human togetherness perspective, Klopp and his players will be delighted with a poignant win.
Next up is an Anfield double header against London sides Chelsea on Thursday night, followed by Fulham on Sunday.
Klopp has confirmed that star signing Diogo Jota, Alisson and Fabinho, are all set to return for the big match against Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten side.
If Liverpool can sequence a string of wins together, the happiness within the club will surely come slowly back.