Half time: Sheffield United 0-0 Leeds United
Peep peep! That was a surprisingly subdued 45 minutes, though it did liven up towards half-time. Leeds dominated possession but Illan Meslier had the more difficult work to make, including one stunning reaction save from John Lundstram. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.
44 min Burke does well to charge at the Leeds defence, across the line of the penalty area. But instead of finding the unmarked McGoldrick to his right he hits a shot that is blocked. That was the wrong option.
43 min “In honour of this meeting of strategic superbrains, please allow me to present my all time Tactics XI,” says Mac Millings. “It’s a state-of-the art, hyper-attacking line-up. Barmby is nominally between the sticks, but I’ve got him playing as an overlapping goalie.
- Strategio van Bronckhorst
- Mel Formachin
- Protocolin Bell
- Johnny Method
- Techniquey Barmby
- Manoeuvre Rösler
- Trickie Lambert
- Nigel Stratjemson
- Dominic Calvert-Lewingback
- Planny Welbeck
- False Nayim.”
False Nayim at No11? The overlapping goalkeeper wearing No5? You are the ultimate tactical maverick.
41 min Sheffield United appeal for a penalty when Ampadu goes over at the corner. Dallas did put hands on him, but VAR have decided – rightly, I think – that it wasn’t a clear and obvious error. It looked like Ampadu was going to have a clear header at goal but then the ball dipped under him as he fell forward.
40 min: Good save from Meslier! Osborn plays a little pass to Baldock, who rolls Harison smartly on the edge of the area and blasts a rising drive that is pushed over at the near post by Meslier. That’s another excellent reaction save.
39 min “As a neutral, I would really like to see Bamford do well,” says Matt Dony. “He seems like a nice guy, but one of those footballers whose true level falls somewhere between the Championship and the Premier League. And, as a Welshman, I love watching Ampadu play. He’s enormously talented, a very watchable player, but (for a number of reasons) has yet to establish enough consistency.”
I’m fascinated by those mezzanine footballers. Was it Neil Redfearn who kept getting relegated from the Premier League and then bought by a promoted club?
38 min: Good save from Ramsdale! Dallas plays a neat one-two with Phillips and rakes a lofted shot from the edge of the area that is pushed behind by the flying Ramsdale. That was a really good save.
35 min Burke loses Ayling on the left side of the area and hits a shot that is blocked by the sliding Cooper. Every time something that happens, you half expect a penalty to be given for handball. McGoldrick then shoots over from the edge of the box.
33 min Right, I’ve decided Leeds are playing a 3-2-3-2: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper; Phillips, Dallas; Costa, Klich, Harrison; Roberts, Bamford.
31 min Harrison’s curling cross is headed onto the roof of the net by Bamford. It was a fairly difficult chance as he was backpedalling slightly, 12 yards from goal, and had to really strain his neck muscles to generate any power.
31 min I’ll level with you, I haven’t a clue what formation Leeds are playing. They are all moving around so much, Dallas in particular, that the shape looks different every time they attack.
29 min: Brilliant save from Meslier! That was the best chance of the match. Osborn’s low cross from the left was flicked by McGoldrick into the path of Lundstram, arriving late in the box. He roared onto the ball and slammed a low shot that was superbly tipped round by Meslier, who had to change direction and dive low to his right.
27 min I’d completely failed to notice that Leeds are playing with a back three of Ayling, Koch and Cooper. Dallas is in midfield in what looks like a 3-1-4-2. Or is it a 3-2-3-2.
26 min Phillips’ dipping free-kick from the right is headed over by the leaping Bamford. He couldn’t quite get over the ball.
22 min Some action! Burke does well to keep the ball in play and find Osborn, whose dangerous cross is cleared at the far post by Harrison.
22 min Sheffield United look low on confidence going forward, which I suppose is unsurprising given their recent form.
15 min It’s all been a bit tame so far. No goals, no strong tackles, no 21-man punch-ups.
13 min Klich’s through ball towards Bamford is intercepted by Ampadu. Leeds are probing incessantly.
7 min Phillips was booked for fouling McGoldrick in the build up to that Lundstram shot.
6 min Sheffield United’s first good attack. Burke plays a nice disguised pass down the inside-left channel to Lundstram, who sweeps a first-time shot wide of the far post.
4 min Ayling surges forward from right-back, twists Osborn inside out and hits a fierce shot from 20 yards is pushed away by the diving Ramsdale. A good save, though one he’d expect to make. Leeds have made a very fast start.
3 min Lovely play from Leeds. Bamford, on the halfway line, lays the ball off neatly to Klich, who curls a beautiful long pass inside Baldock to find Harrison on the left side of the box. He decides not to shoot and cuts the ball back towards the penalty spot, where it’s cleared by Basham. Harrison took the wrong option but the build-up was superb.
1 min Peep peep! Sheffield United kick off from right to left on a windy afternoon at Bramall Lane. They are wearing red and white stripes; Leeds are in green and dark blue stripes.
The players are ready. As a neutral, I cannot wait for this.
“I find the Bielsa nickname of ‘El Loco’ disappointingly unimaginative,” says Ian Copestake, “and wish he could be reanointed as ‘Bob’. This would allow him to be referred to devilishly as Bielsa Bob.”
It would ruin that episode of Blackadder though.
Ethan Ampadu replaces suspended Jack Egan in the Sheffield United defence, and Tyler Roberts comes in for the injured Pablo Hernandez in the Leeds midfield.
Sheffield United (3-5-2) Ramsdale; Basham, Ampadu, Robinson; Baldock, Lundstram, Berge, Osborn, Stevens; Burke, McGoldrick.
Substitutes: Foderingham, Jagielka, Lowe, Fleck, Norwood, Sharp, McBurnie.
Leeds (4-1-4-1) Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa,Roberts, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
Substitutes: Caprile, Struijk, Alioski, Davis, Shackleton, Poveda, Rodrigo.
Referee Paul Tierney.
I’ve seen a few excerpts from Paddy Kenny’s book, including a great story about Branislav Ivanovic having two QPR players in a simultaneous headlock during a tunnel ruck, and it looks highly entertaining.
Morning. We’ve missed the fans at every single game since lockdown, but we’ll really miss them today. Bramall Lane would have been a crucible of ferocity for the visit of Leeds. This is the first Yorkshire derby in the Premier League since 2001, and the first between these sides since March 1994, a time when Doop by Doop was giving us all an unwelcome earworm.
There is added fascination today because of the contest between two of the Premier League’s most free-thinking managers, Chris Wilder and Marcelo Bielsa, and because Sheffield United pipped Leeds to promotion 17 months ago. Leeds made it at the next attempt, and so far they have exceeded the stratospheric expectations with two wildly entertaining 4-3s – a defeat at Anfield and a win against Fulham.
United have started with two defeats, though they were a bit unfortunate at Aston Villa on Monday when John Egan was absurdly sent off in the first half. They need points today to get their season up and running. But most of all they need them because they’re playing Leeds.
Kick off 12pm.