Sheffield United take on Bournemouth this weekend with the Cherries set to be without one of their key players in Jefferson Lerma.
The Colombian midfielder was sent off last weekend as Eddie Howe’s men won out against Aston Villa. However, his dismissal was a bitter blow for the Premier League strugglers.
Lerma has been a regular for the Cherries this term. He’s completed 90 minutes in all but five of the Premier League games he’s played in. Strong in the tackle, good at keeping things ticking over, Lerma is key. Indeed, his pass completion percentage has been in excess of 80% in the majority of his games this term.
Furthermore, Lerma is excellent at breaking up the play. Against Arsenal, West Ham, and Burnley in December, Lerma managed over three tackles per game. He’s also key in terms of interceptions, nicking the ball three and then five times in the two fixtures prior to the win over Villa. (Whoscored.com)
With those impressive stats, Lerma’s absence from the team opens up a massive door for Sheffield United this Sunday.
A chance for Fleck, Norwood, and Berge to put their stamp on things
With Lerma missing, it’s the ideal situation for the Blades. Especially, for new signing, Sander Berge.
The Norwegian was given a baptism of fire last weekend at Selhurst Park. Windy and difficult conditions meant it wasn’t the easiest game for Berge to settle into. Palace’s pressing, too, with the likes of Luka Milivojevic making things particularly tough, made for a difficult day at the office.
However, while the weather might follow suit this weekend, not having a player like that to come up against – such as Lerma – will help Berge. He was caught out a few times last weekend as he, expectedly, has to adapt to the pace of the English game.
If Berge can get a foothold in the game and Fleck and Norwood can continue as they have been of late, then midfield should be an area the Blades dominate.
Of course, the Cherries will still have the likes of Philip Billing and Lewis Cook in the middle of the park. They are fine players in their own right but without Lerma’s presence, it leaves an opening for the Blades midfield three.
If the United midfield three can seize control with Lerma missing, then three points could be well within the Blades’ grasp once again.