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Curtis Jones coming up with important goals. It's becoming a theme.
His winning penalty against Arsenal, his screamer against Everton, his decisive strike against Aston Villa, his winner against Ajax, and now an instinctive finish against Sheffield United that got Liverpool on their way to a desperately needed victory.
Is now a good time to point out that he is still some way short of his 50th senior appearance?
Liverpool have the lead! ?
Sheffield United thought it went out but the VAR rules the goal as legitimate. A smart finish from Curtis Jones.February 28, 2021
Liverpool fans don't need any encouragement to get excited about Jones, but if there were any lingering doubts about the 20-year-old's road to stardom, it's time to let them go.
Graeme Souness put it well after Liverpool's win at Bramall Lane when he said that there are only two things that can stop him now: an ego or an injury.
The first part of that equation we can already rule out. His humility is clear to see whenever he speaks to the press: within 15 seconds of his post-match interview against Sheffield United, he had pointed the spotlight away from himself and dedicated his goal to Jose Agostinho Becker, the late father of absent keeper Alisson.
"I'd like to take this time to say this goal is for Ali's Dad. If Ali sees this, this one's for you bro!" ??
Curtis Jones dedicates his goal to Alisson's late father. pic.twitter.com/PXniD7ndBM— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 28, 2021
Yet his humble, softly spoken personality stops at the white line. Despite being the youngest player in the Liverpool team, he plays with an arrogance that suggests he's been there for years, taking players on and demanding the ball from his team-mates in situations that he has little right to receive it.
Jurgen Klopp said after the win in Sheffield that there is so much more to come from the Reds' latest prodigy, and that is quite a frightening thought. He already has the mentality and maturity of a player in his prime, and that is reflected both in his play and his creative numbers.
Seven goals and five assists in his first 42 appearances might not scream 'world class' but only because we live in the age of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland and their bar-raising standards.
Compare Jones with Steven Gerrard, who had managed just a single goal at the same stage in his Liverpool career, and the weight of his impact becomes clear to see.
It normally takes a young player to the 50-game mark to test the water, but Jones will surpass that milestone with a clearly defined role in the side. While the shape of the team may change in the months ahead, with talk rife of a transformative summer, any rebuilding will be done around Jones and the unique attributes he brings to the table.
His influence so far has been greater than anyone could have reasonable expected. He's had a faster start to life at Anfield than any academy graduate since Robbie Fowler, and has been making his presence felt for too long now to define him as a flash in the pan.February 28, 2021
At this inceptual early stage in his career, Jones is already the man for the big occasion. So what else does he have in his locker?
No idea, but we can't wait to find out.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed he hopes to see Fabinho, Alisson and Diogo Jota back in the squad in time to face Chelsea on Thursday.
The trio all missed Sunday's 2-0 win over Sheffield United. Jota was supposed to return after a three-month layoff with a knee injury, only to fall ill overnight and miss the match, Fabinho was injured and Alisson was granted time off following the tragic death of his father in Brazil.
Well earned 3️⃣ points tonight... happy to be back between the sticks again getting a lovely clean sheet, this one is for you, hermano @Alissonbecker
??? #YNWA #AlwaysTogether pic.twitter.com/d4qUrHx5M7
Liverpool didn't need any of the group against the Blades as Curtis Jones and a Kean Bryan own goal fired them to victory, but Klopp confessed after the game that he hopes to have all three back in time for the clash with Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea.
“Alisson and Fabinho, I’m pretty sure [will be available]," Klopp said (via the club's official website). “With Diogo, he was with us in the hotel, but he got sick overnight and we had to send him home. It depends how quick he will recover, obviously.
“He was in the squad and as I said before, he trained with the team and it all looked really good but unfortunately he got sick overnight. I think he will be available, but I don’t know.”Jota missed the game through illness | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Victory over Sheffield United brought an end to a concerning run of form for Liverpool. They came into the game on the back of four straight Premier League defeats - form which has seen them drop out of the top four.
The Reds now sit sixth in the table, two points behind West Ham in fourth, and Klopp warned Liverpool's critics that they should not be ruled out just yet.
"It was very important [the result] because plenty of people have written us off and that's completely fine," he told Sky Sports. "It's about us to show we are still there and tonight, we showed that. On Thursday, we play Chelsea and we have to show it again.Fabinho has been sidelined with an injury | Stu Forster/Getty Images
"But with all the problems we've had, we're still around the exciting places and that's where we want to be, where we want to fight for and that's what we will do.
"I have never thought about controlling the situation or whatever, you just have to win football games, we know that and the rest is controlled by itself and it's always like this. There's no way without results into the Champions League and that's what we need. We got it tonight and now we keep on going."
It may have only been against Sheffield United - lowly, goalshy, soon to be relegated Sheffield United - but Liverpool will still have been extremely relieved to have picked up a routine 2-0 win on Sunday evening.
Going into their trip to Bramall Lane, the Reds were at the lowest point of the Jurgen Klopp era. With their squad ravaged by injuries, they had lost each of their last four Premier League games. This run of form left them a gut-wrenching 22 points off leaders Manchester City and some way off West Ham in fourth.[embedded content]
During this same period, they had conceded ten goals and prior to the game were also without a clean sheet since they drew 0-0 with Manchester United well over a month ago. Even against a side as hopelessly toothless going forward as Sheffield United - the Premier League's lowest scorers by some margin - the chances of Liverpool ending this run without a shutout seemed slim before kick off.
Due to the tragic death of his father, Alisson was replaced in goal by the error-prone Adrian, while inexperienced pair Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak started at centre back. Despite these mitigating factors, Roy Keane was not in a sympathetic mood while previewing the game for Sky Sports.
Addressing claims that the Reds' makeshift backline might be cut some slack, he said: "We’ve spent the last six months talking about Liverpool’s problems. They’re signed with Liverpool Football Club, if they can’t deal with playing Sheffield United away, they should retire."
? "If they can't deal with playing Sheffield United, they should retire."
Roy Keane has his say on Liverpool's inexperienced centre-back pairing taking the field tonight at Bramall Lane.
Watch live on Sky Sports PL ? pic.twitter.com/v1Z7jv4mVY— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 28, 2021
Harsh, but fair.
Fortunately, Phillips and Kabak showed they don't want to hang up their boots just yet, steering their side to just their seventh Premier League clean sheet of the season.
The pair certainly did not possess a telepathic understanding throughout - the Turkey international even inadvertently put one into his own net in the first half, only for the offside flag to save his ignominy - but there were plenty of bright signs in the duo's performance.Kabak loan move could be made permanent in the summer | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Phillips may have limitations on the ball but even against the physical Oli McBurnie he competed superbly, winning seven aerial duels and also throwing himself in front of several shots.
He is a proper old school English centre back and while he may not be good enough to start for the Reds at full strength, he continues to show that he has more than enough to contribute beyond this strange campaign.
The same could be said for Kabak. In contrast to his partner, there are glimpses that his ceiling is high but he is far from the finished product. At Bramall Lane he was occasionally clumsy on the ball but at other times he looked like the real deal, completing an impressive amount of long switches.
He was also assertive when he needed to be. While Kabak continues to adjust to both the shell-shock he suffered playing in that Schalke team, and Liverpool's new system with minimal preparation time, he still managed to complete a game high three tackles, as well as a team high four clearances.
Together, Kabak and Phillips provided their side with an impressively stubborn last line of defence. The clean sheet, much like the win, was much needed, and could potentially provide the momentum Liverpool require to get their truly mad season back under control.
Liverpool ended a run of four straight Premier League defeats with a routine 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday evening.
The Reds enjoyed the better chances early on with Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold all forcing good saves out of Aaron Ramsdale in the first half. However, the hosts did have a few opportunities of their own with Ozan Kabak being saved the ignominy of an own goal by the offside flag.
LIVERPOOL DOUBLE THEIR LEAD! ?
Roberto Firmino needed a slice of luck and that's what he got.February 28, 2021
After the break, the Reds found their shooting boots with Curtis Jones firing home on the edge of the box. Minutes later, Sadio Mane had the ball in the back of the net again, only for his goal to get ruled out for offside.
Liverpool did double their lead when Roberto Firmino's shot was deflected past Ramsdale by Kean Bryan. The Reds saw out the game without too much fuss to record their 12th Premier League win of the season.
Here are your player ratings from Bramall Lane...SHEFFIELD UNITED RATINGS1. Goalkeeper & Defenders Ramsdale was in inspired form in the first half | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) - 7/10 - Made a string of terrific stops in the first half to keep his side in it. Little he could do about either goal.
Ethan Ampadu (CB) - 6/10 - Racked up quite a few misplaced passes, albeit under significant pressure. Defended pretty well and settled down in possession as things progressed.
Phil Jagielka (CB) - 5/10 - Despite being close to 40, he did not do too badly in the first half. Fluffed his clearance for Liverpool's goal and was withdrawn just before the hour mark so the Blades could reshape.
Kean Bryan (CB) - 6/10 - Overlapped to provide a few decent crosses in Jack O'Connell-esque fashion. Unlucky to deflect Firmino's effort past Ramsdale.2. Wing Backs & MidfieldersStevens had a long evening | Pool/Getty Images
George Baldock (RWB) - 5/10 - Had a lot to deal with keeping Robertson and Mane in check. Didn't offer a great deal in the final third, failing to complete a single cross.
Oliver Norwood (CM) - 7/10 - His dead ball delivery and crossing was on the money more often than not. Also broke up the play nicely. By far the best Blades midfielder.
John Fleck (CM) - 5/10 - Worked hard trying to disrupt Liverpool's midfield but he lost possession quite frequently.
John Lundstram (CM) - 5/10 - Again, the industry was there but his play was anything but inspirational.
Enda Stevens (LWB) - 4/10 - Struggled against Alexander-Arnold - badly. Pretty poor in possession as well.3. Forwards McBurnie needed to be more clinical in front of goal | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
David McGoldrick (ST) - 6/10 - Held the ball up effectively on the rare occasions he got it. Always went close with a header in the opening exchanges.
Oli McBurnie (ST) - 5/10 - Battled away but missed a huge chance just before the hour mark. You have to score those in games like these.4. Substitutes
Oliver Burke - 5/10 - Direct runner but end product was tragic.
Ben Osborn - 5/10 - Rarely involved. Should have just left McGoldrick on.
Billy Sharp - 6/10 - A pretty quiet cameo.LIVERPOOL RATINGS5. Goalkeeper & DefendersAlexander-Arnold had a stormer | Pool/Getty Images
Adrian (GK) - 7/10 - Made a key stop from McGoldrick early on. After that, he was reduced to a spectator for the most part.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) - 8/10 - One of his best displays in recent memory. He was a constant threat down the right-hand side and should have had at least one assist.
Nat Phillips (CB) - 7/10 - Looked comfortable. He mopped up loose balls for fun and also made a pair of fine blocks.
Ozan Kabak (CB) - 7/10 - Put one past his own goalkeeper in the first half, only to be saved by the offside flag. After that he settled down and was pretty solid.
Andy Robertson (LB) - 7/10 - An intriguing display. He drifted into central areas and caused the Blades all sorts of problems.6. Midfielders Jones opened the scoring for the away side | Pool/Getty Images
Thiago Alcantara (CM) - 7/10 - A pretty straightforward evening for the Spaniard. He carved out a few opportunities for his side.
Curtis Jones (CM) - 8/10 - Showed great composure to score an important opening goal for his side. Also helped to recycle possession with some near perfect passing.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) - 7/10 - Kept things neat and tidy for the most part, racking up a pass completion rate of 94%. Did have one decent strike at goal which was well saved.7. Forwards Firmino missed a one-on-one in the opening exchanges | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Mohamed Salah (RW) - 7/10 - A couple of dangerous moments. Will be disappointed not to have score or assisted. Not as disappointed as me though, I tripled captained him in FPL this week.
Roberto Firmino (ST) - 7/10 - Missed a ludicrously easy chance in the first half. Fluked his way to a goal in the second half, only for the dubious goals panel to intervene. Passed the ball well.
Sadio Mane (LW) - 6/10 - Had one ruled out for offside which will be extremely frustrating. His poor run of scoring continues.8. Substitutes
James Milner - 6/10 - Worked hard to help his team see things out.
Naby Keita - N/A
В матче 26-го тура АПЛ «Ливерпуль» выиграл у «Шеффилд Юнайтед» со счетом 2:0.
Счет в игре открыл Кертис Джонс, а затем Кин Брайан забил автогол.
Чемпионат Англии. АПЛ. 26-й тур
Шеффилд Юнайтед – Ливерпуль – 0:2 (0:0)
Голы: 0:1 – Джонс, 48; 0:2 – Брайан (в свои ворота), 64.
Турнирная таблица АПЛ