It would be remiss of me to not look back on a barnstorming affair at Bramall Lane the last time Fulham and Sheffield United met in S2.
Yes, we’ve since been beaten 3-0 at Craven Cottage but, in reality, nobody is too fussed about that one are they?
For most Blades and Cottagers with an interest in the history between the two clubs, it is the 5-4 classic at The Lane from a cool November night in 2017 that stands out a mile off.
A night when Leon Clarke once again found his goalscoring touch, while for the opposition, we got a glimpse into the future of England with a stunning Ryan Sessegnon display, while we also got a glimpse of our own future thanks to a controlled midfield performance from a certain Oliver Norwood.
End to end
The clash that night didn’t resemble your run of the mill football match. It was, instead, more akin to that you might have just witnessed in Florida, as the NBA brought the curtain down on it’s season last week.
Such was the attacking intent and blow for blow play between the sides, it really could have gone either way.
Clarke gave United the lead just six minutes in, before Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo and then, Sessegnon, sent the Cottagers 2-1 up. But there was time for more before the break. Clarke again netting to even the score before Sessegnon netted before half-time to make it 3-2.
The second 45 continued in the same fashion, albeit Fulham, with the impressive Tom Cairney and Norwood directing traffic, did impose themselves on the game. Sessegnon helped himself to a hat-trick, while Ojo added another to make it 5-2.
But, not to be outdone, Wilder chucked the proverbial kitchen sink at Fulham and Samir Carruthers scored with five minutes to go, before Clarke completed his hat-trick to set up a nervy finish.
It was the end of the action, but the sight of Fulham’s players slumped on the turf, exhausted, is a lasting memory for many a Blades fan. It was, of course, a sign of things to come from this Chris Wilder team.
We enter tomorrow’s fixture knowing we must win. In fairness, Fulham will feel the same way.
But quite remarkably, we’ll also enter the game with – including Norwood – six potential starters from that memorable 5-4 goal-fest.
Enda Stevens, John Fleck, John Lundstram, and Billy Sharp all started that night, as did Chris Basham and, as mentioned, Norwood. A certain Jack O’Connell was also in for United, while Simon Moore is also still here.
A lot has changed since then. We arguably go into this game expected to win, something that was a million miles off looking likely the last two times we met.
And we’ll need those familiar faces to thrive off that expectation and get the job done. We are just five games in, but this is must-win territory already.
A similar performance to that of Clarke (we’re looking at your Mr Brewster) wouldn’t go amiss…just make sure someone in Scott Parker’s XI doesn’t outdo him this time, eh?!