This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Be careful Mr Wilder.
Sheffield United have made a steady start to life back in the Premier League and have taken many people by surprise as they find themselves sitting eighth in the table right now, however, there are some people that are claiming that Chris Wilder’s side are doing it off the back of ‘defensive football’.
Speaking ahead of the game with Burnley, Wilder was quick to push aside any notions of his side being labelled ‘defensive’:
“It is quite interesting that we’re labelled as a defensive minded team. I don’t really see that. I just think we’re as balanced as possible.
“We’re still trying to create chances and play our own way, even though the standards have gone through the roof from where we were last year.”
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Whilst Wilder’s job is to try and ‘big up’ his team as much as possible and talk about how they are better than they are, the statistics rather contradict his ideas when it comes to talk of the Blades being a ‘balanced’ side.
Indeed, they seem to have found themselves under the cosh for the most part this season.
The club rank 16th in terms of touches taken and passes completed so far this season, 18th in terms of shots taken, whilst they lead the league in clearances (all via the Premier League).
On top of that, the latest expected goals table from Experimental361 shows that they have been incredibly lucky this season with their results as they should be a lot closer to the bottom of the table than they currently are to the top.
Whilst it’s hard to criticise a team like Sheffield United who are certainly exceeding expectations so far this season, you do start to think if maybe this style of play isn’t going to be able to see them through the whole of the season.
Whilst teams may find them hard to break down now, once teams have become adjusted to their system, they’re going to find ways to exploit it, and that is when the real test for Wilder and his men will begin.