Heading into last Sunday’s game against West Ham some supporters were adamant Sheffield United could dictate the tempo of the match and cause the Hammers a ton of problems. It’s fair to say that’s exactly how it panned out, but the defensive frailties still remain.
In the opening exchanges, it was quite a nervous start to the game. Both sides were guilty of gifting possession. Vinicius Souza, Gustavo Hamer and the back four were all to blame for some dodgy decision making and passes inside the defensive third. Luckily, West Ham failed to capitalise.
As the teams settled down, the Blades began to find a rhythm, picking up spaces in midfield and beyond, and on 20 minutes they started knocking on the door. Will Osula, Ben Brereton-Diaz and James McAtee’s movement seemingly caused Kurt Zouma and Konstantinos Mavropanos all sorts of problems as the defenders kept getting sucked out of position.
But, the most unsurprising thing happened, West Ham took the lead against the run of play. A deflected shot from Danny Ings saw the ball fly all the way to the far post and Ivory Coast winger Maxwell Cornet fired home his first goal for the club. The goal came massively against the run of play.
For the Blades, they’ve been here plenty of times before this season. They didn’t let that goal bring down their spirits.
Minutes after, Hamer began picking up pockets of space, and he almost slid through an incisive pass into Brereton-Diaz. The Chilean gave United a real bright spark with his burst of pace.
On the 44th minute, United’s new signing got his goal on his Premier League debut. A well worked move as Auston Trusty’s power header played in Osula, who worked the keeper, and the Chilean was on the spot to fire home on the volley.
In the second half it was largely dominated by the Blades, much like the first, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. And in the 79th minute disaster struck. Hamer tangled legs with Ings in the area. James Ward-Prowse stepped up and scored.
For Sheffield United fans, they must’ve thought they were watching a repeat of previous games yet another goal conceded in the last 15 minutes.
West Ham came incredibly close to solidifying their position in a comfortable sixth place in the Premier League. But their hopes were dashed when they conceded a penalty in the 103rd minute, after the Hammers goalkeeper superman punched Oli McBurnie in the face as he was about to head the ball from the McAtee cross.
McBurnie stepped up and smashed the ball home, making him the first Blades player to score in four consecutive home top-flight matches.
At this point in the season, no team has previously managed to survive in the Premier League with fewer points than Sheffield United. Nevertheless, Blades supporters should have numerous reasons to feel optimistic and upbeat after the performance last Sunday.
I’m seeing a lot of doom and gloom after failing to beat a West Ham team that was missing multiple key players. I get that point, but the way the game went the players should take full confidence in. Conceding against the run of play, twice, in a must-not-lose situation, and they fought their way back until the death.