Premier League champions Liverpool host Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday evening looking to return to winning ways and close the gap on rivals and surprise leaders Everton.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were held to a controversial 2-2 draw at Everton in the Merseyside derby last weekend, but will be substantial favourites to beat a Sheffield United side with only one point so far this season.
The Blades have struggled for goals so far, managing just two, and have shipped a further seven at the other end.
When Is Kick Off? Saturday 24 October
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Anfield
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Box Office (UK)
Referee? Mike Dean
Virgil van Dijk’s run of 94 successive Premier League starts will come to an end and he will not be the only important Liverpool man missing, with Alisson also sidelined.
Thiago Alcantara could come back into the side after he evaded a serious injury from Richarlison’s red-card tackle in the derby last weekend.
Joel Matip is also pushing for a return after missing out in midweek, although Fabinho’s performance against Ajax could see him keep his place alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence.
Klopp was able to replace all of his front three on the hour mark against Ajax and, despite Sadio Mane being pictured icing his leg after coming off, the trio are expected to start again this weekend.
Liverpool are by no means the only team with injury issues, and Sheffield United are also without a key centre back for the season with Jack O’Connell needing surgery on a knee issue.
Wilder even went as far as to claim that his side missing O’Connell, John Fleck and Lys Mousset is a ‘bigger blow’ than Liverpool losing Van Dijk.
Max Lowe lasted only 19 minutes of his Premier League debut last weekend before being forced off with concussion, which is expected to keep him out of this match. Ethan Ampadu could therefore return to the back three, with Enda Stevens switching back out to left wing-back.
Wilder could also be tempted to hand Rhian Brewster his full debut against the team he left during the summer.
Liverpool: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale; Basham, Ampadu, Egan; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Berge, Stevens; McBurnie, Brewster.
Last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Everton would almost certainly have left a bitter taste in the mouth of Liverpool fans – not only because of the result, but because of the injustice which accompanied it, both in terms of the injuries suffered and the manner in which Jordan Henderson’s late ‘winner’ was controversially ruled out.
The Reds bounced back in the best way possible with victory in Amsterdam midweek though, as a scrappy own goal saw them make a winning start to their Champions League campaign at Ajax.
While the result is always the most important thing, the significance of keeping a clean sheet without Van Dijk, Alisson or Matip will not be lost on Klopp at a time when so many questions are being asked regarding how the Reds will cope without the former in particular.
Saturday will be Liverpool’s first home league game in almost a month, and plenty has happened since that 3-1 triumph over Arsenal – most notably their 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa and last weekend’s derby draw.
The Blades have scored just twice in their five games this season – the fewest of any team in the division – and are the only team in the top flight yet to have led a match at any stage so far.
Wilder’s side needed a late Billy Sharp penalty to rescue a point at home to fellow strugglers Fulham last time out – a disappointing result but one which at least ended a seven-game losing streak and got them off the mark for the season.
Things do not get any easier either. After Liverpool, Sheffield United face Manchester City and Chelsea in a daunting build-up to the next international break.
The most difficult test, on paper at least, appears to be this one first up, with Sheffield United having lost 19 of their last 23 top-flight visits to Anfield and last winning away to Liverpool in 1994.
Ajax 0-1 Liverpool (21/10)
Everton 2-2 Liverpool (17/10)
Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool (4/10)
Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal (Pens 4-5) (1/10)
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal (28/9)
Sheffield United 1-1 Fulham (18/10)
Arsenl 2-1 Sheffield United (4/10)
Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds (27/9)
Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United (21/9)
Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United (17/9)
For Liverpool it looks like an ideal contest against the division’s lowest scorers, and with Mohamed Salah in good goalscoring form the champions should return to winning ways in the league.
Sheffield United rarely get heavily beaten, but it looks like a tall order for them to get anything out of the game. The Blades have really struggled so far this season and, while their hosts are weakened by injury, it would still be a major shock if they came away from Anfield with even a point.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Sheffield United