Chris Wilder

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Wilder: Sheffield United wasted chance to beat Liverpool

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is not taking any moral victories from a 1-0 home loss to league-leading Liverpool, and he’s not shielding his young star goalkeeper after a howler deciding the match at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

[ MORE: Recap | Klopp reacts ]

“If he wants to play for the top teams, he wants to play for England then he needs to do better,” Wilder said of Dean Henderson, who watched a fairly routine Georginio Wijnaldum shot go through his hands, off his backside, and into the goal.

“He needs to concentrate more, it’s a disappointing day for him. I am not going to put my arms around him, simply he needs to do better.”

Those thoughts mirror Wilder’s overall take on the loss, as the Blades could’ve easily equalized if Leon Clarke and his attacking teammates had their finishing boots on.

Chances were there, and Liverpool was not on its game. Wilder was asked if he was proud of his Blades.

“I’m not bothered about the pride. I’m bothered about the result. It’s three points when Liverpool had an off day. Whether that was our shape, or our attitude towards the game. We missed an opportunity to get a big result today and that’s been in our changing room that that’s happened.”

My kind of manager. On a day Sheffield United could easily have patted each other on the back, its hometown hero is making sure his men know it blew a chance to collect a point or three which could prove invaluable in the race for relegation. And that mindset may prove to be just as vital to those hopes.

Premier League preview: Sheffield United v. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool holds 5-point lead over Man City
  • Sheffield United 10th through six games
  • Liverpool has never won at Bramall Lane in PL play

The early morning Saturday match sees the current Premier League leaders look to keep a stranglehold on the top spot with a trip to newly promoted Sheffield United at 7:30 a.m ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Blades are rested and ready, having made 10 midweek changes in the League Cup hoping to keep the regulars fresh for a clash with the leaders. David McGoldrick will miss out with injury while Billy Sharp completes a three-match ban, but Sheffield United is otherwise at full strength. Their results this season have been a mixed bag, but a convincing road win last weekend over Everton proves they are not to be taken lightly and could be more of a threat to stay up than many thought to start the campaign.

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Liverpool has yet to fall in Premier League play this season, and while the Champions League opener at Napoli didn’t go the Reds’ way, they bounced back nicely with a quality road victory at Stanford Bridge last time out. They’ve won 15 league matches in a row dating back to last season, all the way back to their fateful loss to Manchester City that likely cost them the league title.

James Milner seems to be ok despite a midweek back problem against MK Dons, as is Sadio Mane. Alisson is nearing a return to training but will not be ready for this weekend, while Xherdan Shaqiri remains sidelined.

The Reds will be facing a dubious record at Bramall Lane, one of just three grounds Liverpool has played at in Premier League action and not won. They have two draws and a loss at the Sheffield United ground in their last three top flight matches there, with the last victory coming in 1990 when the hosts were forced to play defender John Pemberton in goal thanks to an early injury.

Injuries/suspensions

Sheffield United: OUT – David McGoldrick (groin), Bobby Sharp (suspended).

Liverpool: OUT – Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Alisson (calf). QUESTIONABLE – James Milner (back), Sadio Mane (dead leg), Divock Origi (ankle).


Projected lineups

Sheffield United: Henderson; Egan, Basham, O’Connell; Stevens, Norwood, Lundstram, Fleck, Baldock; McBurnie, Robinson.

Liverpool: Adrian; Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder on Jurgen Klopp“There are all sorts of different aspects in successful managers but I love his connection with his players. There’s a genuine affection from him for them, and vice versa as well. Even the players who aren’t heavily involved. And his connection with the fans is there to be seen.”

Liverpool manager Klopp on playing Sheffield for the first time: “It’s really interesting what they do. In the system they play it’s really aggressive, good pressing. Then of course when they have the ball they have this interesting pattern where the centre halves overlap. I’m four years in England so I don’t know everything about the clubs historically, but it seems to be a big club.”


Prediction

Liverpool will face a tough test, but Klopp seems rightly prepared on how the opponent will play. Being aggressive against Liverpool can lead to deadly mistakes, and while Sheffield may find a goal against Liverpool’s defense that has been spotty this season, they won’t find enough. The Reds win 3-1 for their first Premier League win at Bramall Lane.

Wilder: Sheffield United “can enjoy a night out” after Chelsea draw

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You can easily why Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder is beloved by the Blades.

Keeping in mind that the early run of dramatic results helps that reputation, Wilder has a way with words and seems a mix of what Bournemouth fans love about Eddie Howe and Burnley fans enjoy from Sean Dyche.

[ LAMPARD: “It was under control” ]

Now if he can keep maneuvering results like Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea, well, look out. They may name a pub after him.

“We have celebrated, we have come to a historic football club and gone toe-to-toe with them,” Wilder said after coming back from 2-0 down, later adding that, “It’s a great result for us. Put it into perspective, three years ago we were bottom of League One and now we have come away from Chelsea with a result.”

He continued, and it got even better.

“It’s been a great start, we can enjoy a night out tonight. We are here to compete, we are not day trippers getting autographs and collecting shirts.”

Sheffield United sits eighth, having drawn Bournemouth and Chelsea with last gasp equalizers and beaten Crystal Palace.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Sheffield United

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Chelsea’s attack will have to beat one of the top young goalkeepers in the game when the Blues visit Dean Henderson and Sheffield United at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Henderson, 21, is on loan from Manchester United and has been a force for the Blades dating back to last season, sealing a second loan stint due to David De Gea‘s star status at Old Trafford.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder thinks Henderson has the goods to be the future No. 1 for England, and says there’s a comparison to be made between Henderson and two fellow stars of last season’s Championship who will be on the field for Chelsea on Saturday. From the Yorkshire Post:

“Two of their outstanding young players had experience of the Championship last year. In that play-off final game, one went up in Tammy Abraham – who was really good for Villa and had a fantastic season – and Mason Mount. From a team point of view the result was disappointing for Frank (Lampard) and Mason, but he had an outstanding season and was definitely the standout player in the Championship for me.”

It’s interesting to note that all three players were loanees from big clubs, the cyclical effect of Premier League power blooding their prospects for promotional hopefuls.

Chelsea will need Christian Pulisic, Willian, and Mount to deliver the goods from the wing position, with Pedro out. They’ll have to be better helpers in defense, too, with N’Golo Kante injured and set to be absent for upcoming French duty as well.

The Blues have yet to really deliver this season. Aside from a decent performance in the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea lost 4-0 to Manchester United before drawing Leicester and just outlasting newly-promoted Norwich City.

It’s a step up in class for Sheffield United, though, as Wilder’s men have drawn Bournemouth, beaten Crystal Palace, and lost to Leicester City.


Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea — OUT: N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger, Pedro

Sheffield United — OUT: None.


What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Lampard on England call-ups: “We are delighted for Mason [Mount] and Ross [Barkley], and hopefully it is a matter of time for Tammy [Abraham]. It is only the start for Mason but I’m fully confident that he will keep his feet on the ground and keep working hard.”

Sheffield United defender John Egan on Henderson“If you look at the England goalkeepers, Deano is right up there. It’s not a case of ‘if’, for me it’s a case of ‘when’ for Deano. He’s got a really bright future ahead of him and, so long as he keeps his head down and keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll get there.”


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Emerson, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Barkley, Kovacic; Mount, Abraham, Pulisic.

Sheffield United: Henderson; Eagen, Basham, O’Connell; Sheffield, Norwood, Freeman, Lundstram, Baldock; McBurnie, McGoldrick.


Prediction: This is a big, big ask for the Blades, who come down to earth a bit when the Blues post a 3-0 behind Christian Pulisic’s first PL goal.

Blades hometown hero Sharp: ‘Strikes win you points’

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We have an alarming amount of puns and plays on words regarding Billy Sharp scoring an equalizer for the Blades of Sheffield United on Opening Day, but we’ll let you choose your own adventure.

The point is this: Sheffield United’s return to the Premier League was on point with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 1-1 Sheffield United ]

“We should have gone 1-0 up in the first moment and we had a few chances in the second half, so did they,” said United manager Chris Wilder. “We handled it well. There were a lot of ricochets and bobbles around the goal and up steps Mr. Sheffield United.”

The 33-year-old Sharp is in his third stint with the Blades, and came out of the club’s academy in 2004.

He came into the season with 102 goals for the club in 242 appearances, but Saturday’s match was just Sharp’s third in the Premier League (He helped Saints to Premier League promotion in 2011-12 and made two appearances the following season.

His finish of a bobbling ball in the second half proved to be his first PL goal, and came after four seasons of helping the Blades from League One to the top flight. From the BBC:

“I’m still a little bit speechless to be honest,” Sharp said. “We have paid a lot of money for a lot of good strikers to keep me on my toes. We had chances today.

“We are playing in the Premier League now so strikes win you points. We have to keep each other sharp. I was itching to get on to freshen it up a little bit. The boys were magnificent. They have done themselves proud.”

Sharp had only entered the match in the 82nd minute, and needed a half-dozen minutes to get on the board. Whether he finds another moment or not, his equalizer is one of the stories of Premier League Opening Weekend.