Brilliant Blades: How Sheffield United are making a case for being the best-ever newly promoted side in Premier League history
It’s no secret that Sheffield United are enjoying a brilliant campaign upon their return to the Premier League.
Chris Wilder has led the Blades to fifth in the Premier League table and they are now available at a price of 14/1 with Bet365 to achieve a top four finish come the end of the campaign – which considering the circumstances of their position and the fact they have been nowhere near the drop zone all season seems generous.
Impressive points haul
Following their 2-1 victory against Bournemouth at the weekend, the Steel City outfit have 39 points from just 26 matches, a highly impressive tally to have at this stage of the season. Should they continue their current rate of picking up points, which sits at exactly 1.5 per game, they should finish on 57 points. This would see the Blades finish on exactly the same points haul as Wolverhampton Wanderers last year, something that Nuno Espirito Santo’s men enter the UEFA Europa League.
European football a realistic aim?
On that topic, it would be fair to say that European football returning to Bramall Lane for the first time since the 1990s would be a remarkable achievement. Whilst Wolves heading into the Europa League was fantastic, they managed it with players already used to the big stage, namely Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Rui Patricio. The Blades meanwhile consist of individuals who have very little, if any European experience, highlighting the immense milestone that Wilder and his charges could achieve.
Stubborn defensive record
Whilst Sheffield United’s points tally is likely to get nowhere near that of the impressive sides of Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest during the 1990s, who each achieved 3rd in the first season back in the Premier League, one thing sets the Blades apart and that’s their defensive record.
At the time of writing, they have only conceded 24 goals and kept nine clean sheets. Only champions in waiting Liverpool have a better defensive record than Sheffield United this season. Should they continue their rate of conceding, they will finish on only 35 goals against. That would be the lowest a newly-promoted side have ever conceded and the first time a team entering the league from the Championship have conceded fewer than 40 goals.
Losses not forthcoming
One of the huge benefits of them not conceding goals regularly has been the relatively few losses that they have suffered. Newcastle United and Southampton are the only sides currently sitting lower than the Blades in the table to inflict defeat on them. Their other losses so far this season have been at the hands of Manchester City twice, Liverpool twice and Champions League chasing Leicester City.
Just seven defeats at this stage of the season for a newly-promoted side is highly impressive and bodes extremely well as the campaign edges towards its closing stages.
It’s all well and good comparing the Blades’ statistics to fellow newly-promoted sides, and even then they don’t come out on top in the majority of them such as points gained, wins achieved or position. However, the expectation on their shoulders is what also signals them out.
The Newcastles, Nottingham Forests and Blackburns of the past were all fired to the upper reaches of the table by Andrew Cole, Stan Collymore and Alan Shearer in a time where the so-called ‘bigger clubs’ were not awash with money. Nowadays, Sheffield United simply do not have a star which is possibly why the likes of Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and maybe even West Ham United were expected to challenge for Europe instead.
As a matter of fact, most were predicting Wilder’s troops to make a swift return to the Championship. The Blades have defied all expectations though and should they earn Europa League or possibly even Champions League football, they can deservedly be named as one of the best promoted sides in Premier League history.