Blades earn first win
Sheffield United earned their first victory in a Premier League match at Bramall Lane for 12 years on Sunday, with a well-deserved 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Encouraged by a passionate home crowd, most of whom were watching League One football just three years ago, Chris Wilder’s side added a valuable three points to their tally, thanks to a goal early in the second half from John Lundstram. Although they are among the favourites with sports betting companies to be relegated from the Premier League this season, the Blades were good value for their win against a team with a reputation for being effective away from home.
In fact, the home side could have led in the first half, but a close-range effort from David McGoldrick was well stopped by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. Lundstrum had been involved in that opportunity, and he eventually gave the home team the lead soon after the interval when he smashed home from ten yards out following a blocked shot by Luke Freeman.
The visitors offered little threat for most of the game, despite starting with Wilfried Zaha, as the home team’s well-organised defence kept up their resilience throughout. As well as being a vital win in their attempt to survive in the top flight, the victory was a notable success for Wilder, whose 3-5-2 line-up got the better of wily opposing manager Roy Hodgson. Wilder had made a point of emphasising that he wouldn’t compromise on his team’s style of play in order to stay in the Premier League, and based on this performance, he may not need to.
The last time that Sheffield United played a home game in the Premier League, they suffered a defeat against Wigan at the end of the 2006-07 season, which sent them down into the Championship. That relegation was soon followed by another, to League One, where they spent six seasons.
The early signs have been positive. Following their draw against Bournemouth in their opening game, Sheffield United started strongly in this game, creating numerous chances, and only their wastefulness in front of goal prevented them from notching a bigger win.
Their next game, at home to Leicester City on Saturday, will be a tougher test, but after this showing, the Blades will be confident of adding to their points tally. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, will have another away game, this time against Manchester United.
Words: Josh Dixon