Sheffield Utd 3-3 Man Utd: The points are shared out between both sides in a six-goal thriller

The main focus of gameweek 13 was the huge clash between Man City and Chelsea, two sides who are looking to catch up to the Liverpool, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a difficult trip and a crucial match away to Sheffield United. Chris Wilder’s men have been on fine form since being promoted to the Premier League and have prove themselves to the top teams, which cannot be said about the other new boys in Aston Villa and Norwich City, who are badly struggling.

Focusing on the game as a whole, the hosts without a doubt outplayed and dominated the visitors, in terms of chances created, shots completed and where most of the possession was played on the pitch. The Blades were magnificent and untouchable in the first half, importantly taken the lead through John Fleck whilst playing comfortably with the ball and with a really good level of tempo.

They managed to continue with that straight after the half-time break, in terms of winning the ball in the right areas and pressuring the opposition time and time again through their movement and intelligence. This is how they doubled their lead, as they were able to force Andreas Pereira to lose the ball in the central area with his team-mates high up the pitch, allowing John Fleck to find Lys Mousset on the quick counter attack, who perfectly placed his shot into the corner of the net.

Meanwhile for the Red Devils, they were all over the place for 70 minutes of the match, unconvincing defensively, completely anonymous in midfield and the front three were slouching around in the opponent’s half with nothing to feed from or work with. Even in the first half alone, they only completed one shot on goal, showing how they lacked the required desire and urgency.

However, after Solskjaer made a tweak to the system in the second half, the team were able to have more time and space on the ball whilst having the numbers to get into the final third of the pitch. From the 70th minute till the 80th minute, the attacking-minded and ruthless United side showed up, as United pulled out three well-worked goals from nowhere, with them coming from Brandon Williams, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, three players that came from the academy.

With just a couple of minutes to go, the neutral supporters of the Premier League got what they wanted for a special Sunday evening, as the substitute, Oliver McBurnie, saw his shot to be too powerful for David De Gea and went into the back of the net, leaving the points to be shared out by both teams. In the end, Sheffield United sit comfortably and proudly in sixth-place, whilst Manchester United find themselves in ninth position, nine points away from the top four spots.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

The Red Devils do not have the foundation for a top four finish

Majority of the Old Trafford faithful would have felt that the chances of finishing in the top four would have been very slim a month or so ago, and now they would be thinking to themselves if the side are capable of finishing in the top half of the table. This is what happens when a squad is lacking the required depth and quality, something that the board and Ed Woodward have failed to repair.

Because of this unfortunate situation, the side have been forced to rely on the youngsters time and time again whilst there are not that many experienced players within the midfield and forward department to look up to. With there being no project and system put into place on and off the pitch, United are forced to work on individual quality and counter-attacking football, leaving them with a huge amount of uncertainty on if they can win games consistency and be successful at all.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is starting to show that the job is too big for him

If we are being brutally honest, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been sacked by now if he wasn’t a former Manchester United player that is seen as likeable person by the club and its loyal supporters. For sure, he understands the club’s style of play and the history of the football club, but he hasn’t shown the intelligence and the tactical flexibility that he is made to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world, on top of the fact that he failed to be successful at Cardiff City and Molde previously.

With the likes of Marcelino, Mauricio Pochettino and Max Allegri available and seeking for a new club, the pressure is definitely on Solskjaer to start picking up the much needed performances or results, as the board and Ed Woodward will not be able to bare another season without Champions League football. If things do not end well with this campaign, it may be ideal for the 46-year-old Norwegian to step down from the job, in order to save his reputation as a legend of the club.

Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United continue to outdo everyone’s expectations

Sheffield United are proving to be one of the best surprises of the Premier League so far this season, as they have been able to show their quality on both sides of the pitch whilst playing in a unique system under manager Chris Wilder that involves the use of overlapping centre-backs. Within this style of play, the team are able to attack effectively and are in full control on and off the ball.

The Blades have been really successful against the big boys, having beaten Arsenal at home whilst taking one point each from the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and now Manchester United, with their only defeat being an unfortunate one against Liverpool. If both Chris Wilder and Sheffield United are able to keep this up, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see them finishing in the top half of the table, something they would have never dreamt of at the start of the Premier League campaign.

The rise of Sheffield United in the Premier League has been impressive

At the beginning of the season it wouldn’t have been a surprise to have seen Sheffield United who had just been newly promoted to the Premier League from the Championship to be amongst the favourites to be relegated. But the Blades have started the season well and are proving critics, fans and pundits wrong.

Currently the club are in 6th place, if they finished in that position expect them to react like they have won the league and that would be richly deserved not mentioning it would be good enough to claim a place in the Europa League. So just how have Sheffield United been able to prove the doubters wrong this season?

The bulk of the side remain the same from the Championship and that was the call to arms from manager Chris Wilder who didn’t want to give the club a huge face lift just because they had been promoted to the Premier League. He has recognised that the players that got them here needed to stay as merit and has only tweaked the club slightly. For example in has come John Fleck from Coventry, Ollie Norwood for just £2m from Fulham, John Lundstram, who cost £700,000 from Oxford, and David McGoldrick, the latter also being a free. Paul Mitchell has come in for the backroom staff and gelled well within the set-up too.

Training has excelled under Wilder too where he has picked out one day in specific to run his players around. What the end result is better fitness and that seems to have showed later on in tough and physical games.

All of this hard work and careful recruitment is paying dividends and the clubs recent form has been superb. They have gone their last 4 matches without defeat, the last one coming against Liverpool at the end of September and even that match only ended 1-0 with a lot of pundits pointing out that United were always in the game and that could have ended in a draw.

The recent win over Arsenal by 1-0 just underlines how hard this team have focused to keep clean sheets. They have conceded just once in their last four games and last weekend they overwhelmed  Burnley winning 3-0. And that is the point right there, they are upsetting teams you would expect them to drop points against and for now are beating teams that they should be. Next weekend they will play under fire Tottenham and that should be a fascinating game. How longer can the club keep their good form up? Right now they are looking at 60 points for the season which would be a fantastic achievement.

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Is Marco Silva’s time up at Everton?

Everton lost again at the weekend and this time it would have hurt for long suffering fans. At home against newly promoted Sheffield United and the final score was 2-0. The club didn’t even have a sniff at victory and one wonders now how long manager Marco Silva has left?

Silva spent in the summer bringing in the likes of Alex Iwobi from Arsenal and Moise Kean from Juventus. But the club seem to be failing on all counts.

True the league season is only 6 games in, but that still represents almost 20% of the season gone already and the story does not look good for the club. The problem is that there has been 3 defeats already and all against teams who could finish in the bottom half of the league- Aston Villa ended 2-0, Bournemouth 3-1 and Sheffield United 2-0. The club have conceded 9 goals in their last four games and defensively they look all over the place.

But what has also been striking is that Silva doesn’t seem to have  a plan and know what his best team is, he is also panicking over selections. Why for example would you drop Dominic Calvert-Lewin from the team when he scored in the last game? What does that say about him? Why does he keep dropping Kean? If not deemed good enough then Kean must earn his place, but he keeps getting time.

The shape of the club looks wrong and one has to wonder why did Everton pursue Silva in the first place? They had to, in the end, pay Watford a handsome fee for his services, although Silva’s short time at the club was not good. Silva simply hasn’t been able to prove himself in a major league and for the money that Everton gave Watford they most probably could have chased after a known and successful manager, it seems that the club have been chasing up the wrong tree.

On Tuesday Everton will be back in the Carabao Cup where they will face Sheffield Wednesday away from home. They are the odds on favourites to win, but will Silva chop and change the team? It does seem likely, but he must be aware that Everton need a trophy or at least a deep cup run, and should take this game seriously. After that the club face the champions Manchester City and good luck with that even if they are at home.

One feels that if Everton lose to City that won’t be the end of Silva but if they do a Watford and lose heavy it could well be.

Surely the club will be looking to the future and at different managers now.

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Four Championship players who have the capability of being a big hit in the Premier League

Che

Premier League football is a month or so away from coming to an end, with some clubs currently chasing for a top four finish whilst the others are aiming to escape the relegation zone before it is too late.

With the summer transfer window being just a few months away, most of the teams will definitely be looking at the familiar names within the top five leagues to purchase. However, no harm would be done if many of the mid-table sides are scouting the lesser-known players in the divisions below the top flight.

It’s no secret that the transfer fees continue to rise massively summer by summer, especially for the talented players from the Championship, though it shouldn’t put many of the big teams in the Premier League off, as many of the rising gems and youngsters have proved their crucial worth so far this season.

The quality of the Championship and League One football may not be on the same level as the Premier League, but players from the second and third tier have shown how good they are at the top level of English football in recent years, with the likes of Dele Alli, James Maddison and Joe Gomez being the perfect examples to have gone on to do well at their respective clubs.

Here are the five players who are impressively talented and could become unplayable at the highest division of English football, if they are to reach that level through promotion or a huge transfer move…

Che Adams – Birmingham City

Being one of the five players to have bagged over 20 league goals in just less than 40 Championship starts, Che Adams is currently enjoying his third season at Birmingham City, which is proving to be his most prolific one till date. At the age of 22, the Leicester-born forward has a long career ahead of himself, as he is already showing his rising ability to score from open play as well as from his favoured right foot.

Scoring 22 of Birmingham’s 58 league goals so far this campaign, he has kept his team above the relegation zone practically on his own, which already clearly shows how much of an impact he has been at St Andrew’s and under manager Garry Monk over the last six to nine months. And following his recent contributions, he has begun to gain the attention and recognition for a number of Premier League clubs.

Known for his incredible pace and his amazing eye for goal, he is also able to work hard defensively along with his team-mates whilst completing the required tackles and tactical fouls when required. Having already being reportedly linked with a huge move to the top flight of English football, a potential move to the likes of Leicester City, Southampton or West Ham may make sense for his long-term career plans.

Conner Roberts – Swansea City

Since his senior debut for Swansea City in 2018, Conner Roberts has been a regular starter for the club this season and has been earning all the rewards he deserves, after spending a number of years in the youth academy as well as the unsuccessful loans at Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough. Now, he is playing week in and out at right-back and has also achieved nine appearances for Wales over the last year or so.

Over the last couple of years, English football has evolved to the next level and improved tactically, where the full-backs are starting to play a crucial role on both sides of the pitch and are proving to be a main factor in offering another dimension to the team’s attacking ideas. On that note, Roberts looks to be doing the same for Swansea so far this term, as he has managed to achieve five goals and one assist.

Roberts has completed 46 key passes so far this season and has produced the same amount as league goals as attacking midfielder Bersant Celina, which makes him Swansea’s second-highest creative threat within the final third of the pitch. If he continues to remain consistent defensively and attackingly, he could easily become a wanted man ahead of the summer window, as the lack of quality right-backs in the Premier League is starting to become a huge concern.

John Egan – Sheffield United

It is never easy to find a good defender in the Championship, whether it is a centre-back or a full-back, because the defending in this division compared to the Premier League is a few standards below. However, Sheffield United’s John Egan has proven to be one of the best defenders in the Championship, having played a colossal job in help the Blades to have the second best defensive record in the league.

Before making his move to Sheffield last summer, Egan previously got going at both Brentford and Gillingham, where he gained the experience as well as the game time to become a good centre-back that allowed him to play for a club with more ambition and higher aspirations. Standing at 6ft one inch tall, he has the presence to be aerially dominant on both sides of the pitch, especially through the set-pieces.

For sure, he may not seem as an ideal candidate to make a move to any of the teams in the top half of the table, due to those clubs already having better players and individuals with more potential. However, the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley and Newcastle United could do with his leadership and presence at the heart of defence, where he can literally get the best out of the backline as well as the rest of his team.

Said Benrahma – Brentford  

The league’s current top player in terms of assist is none other than Said Benrahma, who will be hoping that his 14 assists as well as his 10 crucial goals will allow his team to finish in the top half of the table at the end of the season. After moving away from the reserve team of Ligue 1 side Nice, last summer, the Algerian has now found a place where he play to his potential and in a team that is based around him.

Although Benrahma’s contributions have been appreciated by quite a lot of people, his displays for the club may be forgotten if Brentford end up being unsuccessful with their aim of picking up maximum points or somewhere along 16 to 18 league wins as a whole. Either way, the 23-year-old will have caught the attention of many by now, as he looks to have reached the early peak days of his football career.

Possessing the intelligence and understanding to play down the flanks as well as in the number ten role, Benrahma would without a doubt not find it hard to handle the physical style of play against the Premier League midfielders and defenders. When you see the likes of Felipe Anderson, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ryan Fraser having a solid season, it will surely motivate him to finally make that big move to the top flight.