Chris Wilder looks forward to joining the Sheffield United squad in January as the Blades head into their first game of 2021 with just two points to their name.
Lowly United kick off the new year with a trip to Crystal Palace, which have not won in six Premier Leagues games.
After playing well against Manchester Uniteisnd drawing ties at Brighton and Hove Albion, successive 1-0 losses to Everton and Burnley, combined with a series of positive coronavirus cases, have pushed the Blades even further back.
Wilder’s team is desperately short on goals, while injuries to Sander Berge and Jack O’Connell have depleted them in midfielisnd defense, and the Blades boss is aiming to bring in fresh faces this month.
” In my opinion, we need to improve the group,” Wilder told Sky Sports News.
” It is up to the CEO and the board to make a decision or pursue the goals we are seeking and the positions we are seeking.”
United won both their league meetings with Palace last season, and Eagles boss Roy Hodgson believes the Blades have been very unfortunate this span.
” I certainly remember the two defeats at the hands of a Sheffield United team last year that devastated them all. What has surprised me is that I see the same Sheffield United team [this year] I saw last year, “he said.
” That is one of the anomalies of football. As far as I am concerned, we are faced with a team that is very difficult to beat. We are much more used to entering a game as losers … they have so much of a chance, Sheffield United to win the game. “
PLAYERS TO SEE
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
Zaha has scored eight goals in 14 Premier Leagues appearances this season, double what he scored in 2019-20 (4 in 38 applications). In fact, Zaha is looking to double goals in a Premier Leagues campaign for the second time in his career, also in 2018-19 (10 goals in 34 games).
Sheffield United – Ethan Ampadu
Ampadu has been played in a variety of positions by Wilder, but the Chelsea borrower has so far been unable to find his feet in South Yorkshire. The young Welshman has a lot of potential, but the Blades need him to start showing it consistently.
OPTA KEY FACTS
• Only the Blades (19) have a longer streak of games without a clean sheet in the Premier Leagues than Crystal Palace (15). Uniteisre the only team in 2020-21 not yet to recoris Premier Leagues shutout, while the Eagles have the second-lowest total so far (one).
• Uniteisre winless in their 16 Premier Leagues games this season (D2 L14), equaling Queens Park Rangers’ Premier Leagues record for the longest winless streak since the start of a campaign (16 in 2012- 13). The last English top flight team to fail to win any of their first 17 matches in a season was Bolton Wanderers in 1902-03 (22).
• Only West Brom (43) have had fewer shots on target in the Premier Leagues this season than Sheffield United (46). The Blades also have the largest negative difference between expected goals (16.3) and goals scored (8) this season, scoring around eight fewer goals than would normally be expected based on the quality of their chances.
• Playing their first league game of a calendar year at home, Palace won just one of their last six such games (D2 L3), beating the Wolves 3-1 in 2013.
• Palace were one of two teams United won at home anisway in the Premier Leagues last season (along with Norwich City), and were also one of two teams against which the Blades kept their goal to zero (also Aston Villa).
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.