Sheffield United analysis: A deeper look into the season so far

Sheffield United have the worst defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded 31 goals, as well as the joint-second worst goal tally (10 goals). 

This poses a tricky question for Paul Heckingbottom: does he look to tighten the shape up more and sacrifice a more attacking player for a proper midfielder, or, does he attempt to make the Blades more aggressive up the top end of the pitch? 

In the second halves against Wolves and Brighton he chose the latter, and as a result United looked really positive and far more of a threat than we’ve become accustomed to seeing this season. 

Despite that, it does feel like the Blades are still trying to find the right formula and balance. 

xG and xGA

Sheffield United’s expected goals (xG) for this season stands at 8.1 [Opta], indicating that, excluding penalties, they were anticipated to score approximately eight goals based on the quality of chances created.

This figure represents the lowest xG in the Premier League, reflecting their challenges in breaking down opposing defences. They have managed to score a total of 10 goals, including two penalties and four own goals. 

In alignment with their position near the bottom of the table, Sheffield United’s xG against, which signifies the expected goals conceded based on the quality of chances for the opposition, is also the league’s lowest at 25. The freak scoreline against Newcastle will of course impact both expected numbers and reality. 

Big Chances Missed

The Blades have only managed to register 12 big chances created, Burnley are the second-lowest with 13 [SofaScore]. What is quite staggering is that Sheffield United have missed all ten of their big chances they’ve created in open play. 

This is alarming and will have to change very quickly; United are in a predicament where high quality chances are scarce, so to be missing every single one of them in open play is bound to spell trouble. 

Comparing these numbers to the 19/20 season – Sheffield United were the 10th-best team at creating big chances (71), scoring 23 of them. United were the joint-fifth lowest scorers that term. 

No player came close to double figures. Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset were the club’s top scorers with six. United’s number nine had a 12% goal conversion rate that season. While Mousset had 16%.

That gives you an idea of what the Blades should be aiming for.


This is the main worry. United have already conceded 31 goals and are yet to keep a clean sheet. 

Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest conceded 71 goals and 68 respectively, and they managed to steer clear of the drop zone, albeit by four and five points. So it can be done, but it just makes the task that more difficult when you’re having to come from behind and score two or three to win a game. 

The good news is Anel Ahmedhodzic is set to be involved after the international break. Maybe his performances will improve with this new lease of life and his involvement can help protect Wes Foderingham’s goal and earn a couple of clean sheets in these next two games.

Tags Analysis Anel Ahmedhodzic Cameron Archer Oli McBurnie Paul Heckingbottom Wes Foderingham