West Bromwich Albion 0 - Sheffield United 1
Sadly, it was more of the same at home to another promotion rival. Sheffield United appeared to have sussed our style of play and worked out how to deal with it just the way Derby, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Forest did. It leaves us with just one home win in three months, which doesn't bode well for gaining promotion or surviving in the Premiership if we do.
Despite what looks close to our strongest starting lineup, we were second best for most of the game. Sheffield pressured the defence and midfield, making it difficult for us to play out and build attacks - and when we did, the crosses into the box were generally poor. Sheffield scored the only goal of the game when a typically fast break down the right led to a cross and a header and it was a tactic that we seemed unable to mimic; the exception being the one decent delivery Holgate did manage to put in only for Jay Rodriguez to put into the net with his hand and fail to get away with it.
Luckily our away form is still keeping us in the top six.
Really disappointing result that probably puts an end to our hopes of automatic promotion.
Too many players weren’t at it but I think credit should also go to Sheffield Utd. They played some good stuff and put us to the sword tactically - flooding and pressing Barry and working overloads on either wing when they had the ball.
Their goal was a good move but neither Barry or Livermore seemed to have the legs to get back and cover.
We probably dominated possession in large spells but in truth they threatened more on the break and we didn’t look like troubling them in open play.
I’ve never been a fan of the 4-3-3 and it’s a serious problem now. I don’t think you can play the number of games the championship throws at you in short succession in this way - it takes too much out of the midfielders and fullbacks.
The problems at home have been long evident but we persist with the same things hoping they might work with Gayle out wide left probably the most annoying. We don’t seem to have solved our home form since we lost Barnes which probably points to fact that we have no guile to unlock teams. It is a shame we were missing Murphy yesterday as he looked to be finding form.
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