Chris Wilder highlights the big difference between Sheffield United and Liverpool - and it was not Alexis Mac Allister's world-class strike

SHEFFIELD UNITED may have been undone by a moment of game-breaking magic from Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister at Anfield, but for Chris Wilder, the defining feature of his side’s 3-1 Premier League loss was more to do with robustness and physicality.

For the visitors, their physical exertions took their toll eventually, according to the Blades chief, with the likes of Andy Robertson, Cody Gakpo and Curtis Jones being thrown on by the hosts in a bid to pull them through on a difficult night which was not straight-forward.

The key moment arrived on 76 minutes when a sensational strike from Mac Allister, to make it 2-1, finally broke the rock-bottom Blades. Gakpo added a late third as Liverpool returned to the summit.

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Wilder, whose side host Chelsea on Sunday, said: “The best operators in the world manage at this level and, technically, players can do something out of nothing. From a bouncing ball, to fire it in the top corner was incredible.

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez (left) attempts a shot on goal during the Premier League match against Sheffield United. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.Liverpool's Darwin Nunez (left) attempts a shot on goal during the Premier League match against Sheffield United. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Darwin Nunez (left) attempts a shot on goal during the Premier League match against Sheffield United. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

"Playing mentally under pressure at the highest levels in front of 60,000 and in the last ten games (at Anfield) makes it more difficult.

"And it’s the physicality. (Andy) Robertson coming on the pitch shows the power and pace of the Premier League. It’s been our achilles heel all season.

"Liverpool find goals late on and we’re struggling to get in there. The team has given everything they have got in the last three games but physically, there’s a gap where we need and would like to be and it’s hurt us all season.

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"We need to be at our robust best, but I am getting some consistency after the Arsenal game.”

United, who spurned a brilliant chance to take the lead inside the first minute through James McAtee, went behind in comedic fashion on 19 minutes.

In a horror moment, keeper Ivo Grbic dallied for too long and saw his clearance blocked by the alert Darwin Nunez, with the ball rolling into the net in the softest of openers for the title-chasing hosts.

But any hopes of a routine victory were dashed when the Blades, who hung in after going behind and defended stoutly and asked more questions on the resumption, levelled shortly before the hour mark when Conor Bradley deflected Gus Hamer’s header into the net in front of the new look Anfield Road end.

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Liverpool were sloppy for much of the second half but a moment of class from Mac Allister, who fired home a blistering drive, put Klopp’s side back in front on 76 minutes as most of Anfield breathed a considerable sign of relief.

A late header from Gakpo sealed victory on a night when United refused to be cowed for much of the game and asked questions of the hosts, now unbeaten in 28 home league matches since October 2022.

Wilder added: “The narrative in the presser before and even the interviews before the game, you can sense that we're just here to make the numbers up and the narrative was a comfortable evening for Liverpool.

"That's not our emotion, our emotion is to do well individually and collectively and for our football club. Be competitive.

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"We knew how the game was going to go, we knew we had to give up the ball and that they had players who could hurt us and we had to suffer.

"You have to go through those periods, stay in the game and take it deep. Ride your luck and hopefully things fall for you and it becomes a night where you can get something from the game.

"Unfortunately we come up, especially late on with the amount of late goals they've scored and a world-class finish from a World Cup winner. You're trying to chase it and they get three and it's done and dusted.”

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