Can Sheffield United Stay in the Elite?

The Blades managed to upset the odds and stun the football public in England and worldwide with their stellar Premier League performance. The team has earned the top-half finish in the 2019/20 campaign, just upon earning the promotion to the top-tier of English football. Nevertheless, the experts at believe they will face hard times repeating the feat in the 2020/21 season. Saving the elite-class status will require many more sacrifices. Will the Blades make it count and avoid being dropped in the Championship football after spending only two years in the top class?

A fantastic 2019/20 Premier League campaign

Despite the limited talent in his ranks, Chris Wilder has managed to instil the winning mentality into his troops right upon making the comeback to the elite tier. Sheffield United were never going to amuse us with fabulous attacking displays, but they still managed to finish the campaign at the sky-high 9th position in the Premier League ladder. The rock-solid defence was the main key to such a successful run.

The Blades had the fourth-best defensive record in the entire league. They were better than the likes of Chelsea, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Everton, and many others in the process. How has the team done so well without a star-studded line-up? The answer lies in the main values of South Yorkshire City. Chris Wilder is a local man who knew how to motivate his lads to commit to hard work and reflect the city’s culture on the pitch.

A poor start to the new season

Last year, United’s top scorer was Oli McBurnie who bagged no more than six goals in a 38-game campaign. He is yet to find the back of the net in the new season and his form can be regarded as one of the main reasons for a dreadful start. Sheffield United took no more than a single point in the opening seven gameweeks, a record that keeps the Blades at the very bottom of the standings, together with uninspired Burnley.

Sheffield United scored just three goals during the process, allowing as many as ten at the opposite end. To be fair, the team had a very tough schedule, playing the likes of Wolves, Aston Villa, Leeds, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City in six of seven opening affairs. Fulham was their only easier fixture and that’s where Wilder’s men earned the lone point so far, playing a disappointing 1-1 draw in mid-October at Bramall Lane.

Decent defensive showings against heavyweights

On the bright side, the Blades look to have improved defensively in their most recent matches. They fell to big-hitters Liverpool and Manchester City by only a single-goal margin apiece. The rock-solid defence could be the key to better days at Bramall Lane, especially knowing a much easier schedule is on the horizon. Also, no team has bagged more than two goals against United so far in the season. It is respectable information if we take a look at the list of the outfits they had faced.

Attacking woes

Wilder has many more issues with his side’s attacking potential. French striker Lys Mousset is still sidelined through injury, while Billy Sharp is getting older. The Blades’ icon is now 34-year-old and he can do little to battle much younger and stronger defenders in the league. After all, the veteran forward usually starts matches on the bench.

The attacking line thus relies on Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick exclusively. The pair have notched only a single goal combined so far. Both players have played all seven matches in the season.

On a brighter note, the team did sign former Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster in a record-breaking deal this summer. The youngster has only begun one of seven outings so far, and it was against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in late-October. He will likely get more chances to play in the weeks and months to come and it will be very exciting to see how he will respond.

Rhian Brewster is a huge talent

Brewster has shown some very promising performances in Liverpool’s youth team. Jurgen Klopp did not hesitate to give him an opportunity to feature wherever he could have afforded it. While people generally consider it a bad move, the Brewster signing could prove out to be a spectacular one if the youngster avoids injuries. He should have enough minutes on the pitch alongside the aforementioned players and we would not be surprised to see him shine against easier rivals in the months to come.

Can Sheffield United step up?

We will be able to give a more accurate answer to this question in the next few weeks or months when we see the Blades in action against other teams. They will remain tough to break down that’s for sure, but can they pull off several narrow 1-0 wins in a row and escape the relegation area that way? If the team still carries the city’s core values, the answer is positive. The defensive efforts against big heavyweights will no doubts represent a massive confidence boost in the upcoming period.

Either way, Sheffield United are in for tough times. They will have to battle, but hey, that’s what they do best. They will certainly not give up, especially not this early in the season. While people may believe Chris Wilder’s job could be on the line, the local patriot is the city’s soldier and United won’t give up on him easily.

Who knows, we may see a huge twist sooner than anyone could expect. Sheffield United certainly have the strength to shift their fortunes around, again despite the limited quality in their ranks. The sense of this team’s unity is unparalleled in the whole division. Money does dictate the league, but the Blades are much more than money. No team in the league has a larger sense of togetherness. And last but not least, nobody can take hard work and hope out of this team, regardless of the results in the opening several weeks.

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