Burnley – Sheffield United went just as expected: The Blades dominated the ball but Burnley were more clinical and came away with a vital shutout win.
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Ben Mee’s first half header was enough to secure back-to-back home wins for the Clarets, as Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United had plenty of chances but once again couldn’t come out on top in a tight game.
After a number of COVID-19 cases in the Blades squad, Wilder’s boys were shorthanded and have now failed to win any of their first 16 games of the season and are bottom of the table with two points, 11 points from safety.
Burnley are on 16 points, five points clear of the bottom three.
Three things we learned
1. Same old story for record-equaling Blades: They have gone 16 games without a win at the start of the season, and that equals QPR’s record from 2012-13. Oh dear. Wilder’s Sheffield United are playing very similar to last season, but the big difference is they had lots of one-goal wins after they were promoted. Something changed in the final months of 2019-20, though, as confidence seemed to drain and their poor form from ‘Project Restart’ set them on the back foot for this season. Sheffield United need a miracle to stay up, and the most surprising thing is that so many people are surprised by this. It was coming and the Blades massively overachieved in the first half of last season.
2. Burnley turn Turf Moor back into a fortress: The Clarets are now four games unbeaten at home, with three wins in that stretch, and fortress Turf Moor is the reason they are pushing away from the relegation zone. Burnley are back to their best with Barnes and Wood up top now fit and leading the line up top, and Mee, Pope and Tarkowski are solid as a rock at the back. Burnley need to keep winning at home to drag themselves up the table but with a sale of the club set to be complete in the coming days, Sean Dyche will have some money to strengthen his squad this January and that will make a big difference.
3. Rhian Brewester’s confidence in tatters: The young forward was one of the top young talents in the English game in recent years, and his loan spell at Swansea last season proved that. His big-money move to the Blades just hasn’t worked out as he’s never seemed comfortable and his confidence is clearly low, as he had a few chances in the first half in this clash but didn’t look like scoring at all. Brewster is yet to score for the Blades and it looks like the pressure is starting to show.
Man of the Match: Ben Mee – Brilliant display at the back as he held things together, especially in the second half, and a lovely finish for his goal too.
Ashley Barnes went close early on but was denied brilliantly by Aaron Ramsdale, as Burnley started brightly.
At the other end Rhian Brewster was lively but was off target on two occasions, as the Blades looked dangerous enough going forward in the first half.
David McGoldrick’s cross was cleared by Burnley and from that corner, Sheffield United almost scored but Brewster’s header was cleared off the line by Josh Brownhill as the Blades wanted a penalty kick for a foul in the box.
Moments later Burnley took the lead as Wood’s header was pushed over the bar and Mee headed home from the corner, as the Clarets were clinical.
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Sheffield United had plenty of the ball in the second half, once again, and Nick Pope did well to deny David McGoldrick.
The Blades did all the pressing in the second half as Baldock’s deflected shot flew just wide and Jon Egan smashed another beauty just over later on.
Burnley dug deep, as always to seal the win as Sheffield United succumbed to yet another narrow loss.