Sheffield United have not won any of their first five league games for the first time since the 2006-07 season, what happened that year?
Relegation from the Premier League.
There is plenty of time for Chris Wilder and Sheffield United to turn it around as there are still 33 games to play and 99 possible points to play for but with the next three games being Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, Sunday could be seen as a missed opportunity to get the first win of their season against fellow strugglers Fulham.
Billy Sharp’s late penalty cancelled out Ademola Lookman’s opener as the points were shared at Bramall Lane but it could have been a very different story.
Blades failed to take their chances
The Blades controlled the first half as they set up in their usually 3-5-2 formation but the only difference being a Premier League debut being handed to left wing back Max Lowe as Enda Stevens who usually allocates that role moved into centre halve to fill in for the injured Jack O’Connell. Unfortunately for Lowe he suffered a concussion 18 minutes into the game and was replaced by centre back Jack Robinson as Stevens moved back to his regular role.
The majority of the Blades play came down the right hand side, with the free flowing passing triangles between George Baldock, Chris Basham and Sander Berge helped drag Fulham defenders out of position to create space. The Blades created many chances in this style, most notably a header by Oli McBurnie who could only direct it straight to Alphonse Areola.
However in the second half the Blades lost their rhythm with the visitors growing into the game significantly, putting an appropriate press on the Blades, especially in the wide areas in order to prevent the trio down the right linking up as successfully.
A day to forget for Mitrovic
The Cottagers could have taken the lead through Alexsander Mitrovic from the penalty spot midway through the second half but he blazed it over. However they did get their lead with 13 minutes to go through Lookman who burst past Basham and fired the ball emphatically into the top corner to get his first goal in 37 Premier League appearances. Aaron Ramsdale in the Blades goal was impressive throughout the game, making a number of impressive saves but there was nothing he could do to prevent that strike.
It was Mitrovic at the centre of attention once again as he clearly kicked Robinson in an attempt to go to the ball but gave away a penalty which Sharp comfortably dispatched to get his 99th league goal for his boyhood club and his first in front on the Kop end at Bramall Lane. Mitrovic became the first player since Mikel Arteta in 2012 to miss a penalty and also give one away. In addition to this Mitrovic has now missed four of his last 10 penalties he has taken for Fulham and Newcastle.
The Blades and Fulham both now sit on one point and it will be interesting to see if Chris Wilder makes any tactical tweaks as they travel to Anfield next week to take on the Champions. After five games last season the Blades were four points better off than they are now. Is it just a slow start for Chris Wilder and Sheffield United or is it a true case of second season syndrome?