One reason Sheffield United might be enjoying so much success this season is consistent team selection.
Struggling managers are often accused of not knowing their best starting XI. Too much squad rotation is attributed to poor results.
Whether this is true or not the Blades appear to be benefiting from relying on the same key players. Eight of their squad have played 25 or more of their 27 Championship games this season.
No other side in the division can match that consistency.
Birmingham City and Rotherham United are next on the list with seven players apiece who have made 25 or more appearances. Brentford, Middlesbrough and Millwall all have six each.
United’s regular faces
There are two from Chris Wilder’s squad who are yet to miss a single minute of league action this season – goalkeeper Dean Henderson and defender Jack O’Connell.
Striker David McGoldrick has also featured in all 27 Championship matches. However, on five occasions that was as a substitute.
A further three Blades have missed just one game each but started the other 26. They are John Egan, John Fleck and Enda Stevens.
Finally, Chris Basham and Billy Sharp have both made 25 appearances. Basham’s are all starts while Sharp has come off the bench for four of those matches.
Most of the time Wilder is relying on a core group of players and United’s current position of second suggests that is a good thing.
The ‘keeper and the back three in the Blades’ 3-4-1-2 system are all among those most regularly used. This familiarity might explain why only Boro have a better defensive record in the Championship in 2018/19.
At the other end McGoldrick and Sharp have struck up a partnership that has already produced 26 league goals. Only Aston Villa, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion have scored more than United’s 48 league strikes this term.