The Race for Europe: Has the Hiatus Stunned Sheffield United's Momentum?

Champs League

In their Wildest Dreams

This season, the biggest surprise of all has been the rise of Sheffield United. Having completely transformed their play this season, they now hold on to seventh position in the Premier League with only nine games remaining.

The Blades' recent game in hand against Aston Villa ended in a 0-0 draw, despite the fact they should have snatched all three points but an error in goal-line technology prevented this. Regardless, it is already looking like this season will be United's best-placed finished 1970s and unless they lose practically every game from now until the end, it is a campaign the fans will never forget.

However, will Chris Wilder's men be able to claim a spot in the top four this season in the Premier League and achieve one of the greatest feats in Premier League history?

Let's take a look at their chances.

Masters in defence, students in scoring

No matter how you put it, Wilder wasn’t wrong in his thinking his team’s resilience and their ongoing battle to fight has made them go far within the league this season. And it’s also undeniable that he has been the mastermind behind the club’s monumental rise, being the glue that holds his team together and giving them a sense of belonging, playing as one.

Big questions, however, are to be asked. Are Wilder’s attempts and tactics enough to get them through? Are they now being found out? Has the momentum been stunned by the three-month hiatus? Or, simply put, are they just destined for this type of fame?

The Blades, after all, do have a spectacular defensive record and it does just seem as if the wheels are set to eventually come off. The clubs' meagre 29 goals conceded is the second-best in the league with only Liverpool bettering this record.

With this said, goals have been a real issue at the other end. With a prolific goalscorer, United may already have one foot in the Champions League and not have to settle for lacklustre 1-0 wins and hope that their defence plasters over the cracks of a poor attack.

Their 30 goals scored in Premier League so far is the worst inside the top half and is the sixth-lowest throughout the division. In fact, no player across the three domestic competitions has been able to score more than six goals which is a damning statistic. Lys Mousset and John Fleck are the only men with five goals thus far and other than the odd goal from Billy Sharp, Oli McBurnie and John Lundstram, nobody else has really contributed.

The likes of David McGoldrick, who has bagged just once in 19 games, have been a real issue for Wilder to deal with and if they are to get over the line, at least one man is going to need to step forward.

To Get Top Four

skybet betting tip

SHEFFIELD UNITED @ 16/1

50/50

The Blades, you could say, have a fifty-fifty chance of getting through to the top four as their next four fixtures being Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and Norwich are all way below them in the table.

However, they also still must face the greater teams who are too contesting for this highly desired fourth spot. Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City will be no walk in the park for them, though they’ve previously proved they can well stand their ground against the bigger clubs.

So yes, Wilder’s United has been playing superbly in the league with even scoring against them not being a factor of bringing them down to a defeat. Although, as we are going deeper into the season it must be said that other teams might start to see through their tactics.

It will be harder to score against other teams and this is the moment where goals will start weighing in immensely, which could result negatively for United and they could start losing points they so badly need.

To Finish Inside The Top 5

skybet betting tip

SHEFFIELD UNITED @ 8/1

Aim for Fifth for now

If United can conjure up wins at Old Trafford and against Spurs, whilst Chelsea drop a few, they'll be off to the Champions League. Plus, the Blades may even qualify through a fifth-placed finish due to Manchester City’s ban from the competition over the next two seasons.

Unfortunately, United has also proved in the past to have had a fair number of slipups, such as their losses against Newcastle and Southampton, whom they should be able to defeat. If they can’t manage to turn these losses around come the next round of fixtures, it could go horribly wrong for them seeing that they still must manage to play the big teams as well.

It does look as if fifth might be a possibility. But it is all based on whether or not the hiatus has stunned their fabulous growth back into the Premier League.

By Yasmine El Farissi

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