Sheffield United host Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend looking to continue their push for a European place.
The Blades won out against the Seagulls last time out at the AMEX. Since then, Graham Potter’s men have continued to struggle near the bottom three. It is, therefore, a massive game for the away side.
But what’s going wrong for Brighton? Can they win out this weekend at Bramall Lane? Sheffield United News site writer, Lee Connor, caught up with Louis Lenehan from BHASeagulls (@BHAseagulls_com) team and lifelong Seagulls fan, Owen Gibb (@owen_gibb1989, to get the lowdown on Graham Potter’s men.
1. Heading into the game, you’re only three points off the bottom three. Can you see Brighton surviving or is there a very realistic chance of you going down?
Owen – Definitely, we have to be realistic and accept that we are in a relegation battle and go into games with that mentality of scrapping for our lives. I think it’s going to be tight but if we can turn a few draws into wins I think we will be able to keep our heads above water. The standard of the bottom clubs this season is so high which adds pressure to turn good performances into tangible results.
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Louis – I think we will survive as we have a group of talented players but unfortunately there’s every chance we’ll go down. We’ve seen good teams go down before and right now we concede too many silly goals and we’re not clinical enough.
2. On that note, if you did go down, is Potter the right man to lead the club? Didn’t the club award him a near six-year deal?
Owen – For the record, the six-year deal felt incredibly premature, but I would stick with him. He has come in with a clear identity and a long term plan that aligns with the club hierarchy. He has had his issues and has not yet found his best eleven which is a concern, however, it feels like everyone at the club is pulling in the same direction and, of course, going down would be a setback, but he would be well placed to keep things settled and push for a bounce back up.
Louis – I think Potter probably is the right man to lead the club, he has a very good temperament and exudes calmness most of the time. However, his style of play is perhaps not as well suited to the Championship and at times he’s not very willing to change his style. But he’s clearly a talented coach.
3. One of the big summer talking points was the signing of Neal Maupay. The Blades wanted Maupay, too. How has he settled in, I’ve noticed he’s in a bit of a goal drought?
Owen – He started really brightly and for his first season in the top flight I would consider it a great success. He has stalled since the turn of the year as I feel teams have cut off space in behind for him and stifled the supply line so chances have been at a premium. He definitely needs more support as the pressure of leading the line has seemed to wear him down as the season progresses. You get the feeling his form has followed that of the team and that a few good results will see the goals return.
Louis – Maupay started off well, scoring on his debut but then went three games without scoring. On the whole, he’s been a good signing for Brighton scoring in important games against Tottenham, Arsenal, Wolves and Palace. But as you say, he hasn’t scored in our last 9 games which is obviously very worrying at such an important stage of the season.
4. And what about Glenn Murray? How’s he gone from the main man last season to bit-part this season and touted in January for a move?
Owen – 2 things have worked against Murray this season, his age and his style. Potter came in with a strong ethos of the ball on the floor, intricate passing football and Glenn did not fit that mould, and when Maupay and Connolly were scoring earlier in the season it felt like a progressive change. With the results dipping, and goals drying up, there has been a huge clamour to reinstate him as a proven top-level goalscorer. The equaliser at West Ham could be huge come May and I would not be surprised to see him play a pivotal role in the run-in.
Louis – I think the main reason he hasn’t played as much is due to Potter wanting more movement up top, so he’s gone with Maupay and sometimes Connolly. I never understood why Murray was begin touted around in January and am relieved to see him back playing, he’s still absolutely crucial to us and can still play to a good level
5. United ran out 1-0 winners at the AMEX earlier in the season. What impressed you about the Blades that day?
Owen – The organisation. Every player in the team knew their job inside and out, executed it with conviction and confidence and did not give us a sniff. Really was a complete team performance and 1-0 flattered us in the end. McGoldrick terrorised Adam Webster and I would be surprised if he started ahead of Duffy this weekend after that experience. Was very impressed with the whole unit.
Louis – I was so impressed with Sheffield United’s organisation that day, the whole team was so well drilled. It was like watching an Antonio Conte team, where every player knows and accepts their role fully. I’ve been really impressed with Sheffield United and Chris Wilder this season.
6. Has much changed since that day? Do you fancy yourselves to pick up a win at Bramall Lane? We have actually lost to Southampton and Newcastle at home, teams many expected us to beat.
Owen – I guess teams are starting to get to grips with the system Wilder uses and with that comes new challenges. Interesting that two teams with very different philosophies have got results at Bramall Lane so know the obvious blueprint. I think we need to be aggressive and diligent off the ball and keep it tight, particularly at set-pieces where we have been vulnerable and hope to find success on the break. Maupay and Trossard will work hard in the channels if the wing-backs push high and hopefully that can bring some rewards. Think it will be tight, maybe a 1-1 draw.
Louis – To be honest I don’t fancy us to win, from what I’ve seen the Blades play better against teams that want the ball – which is what we do. I’d happily take a point at Bramall Lane.
7. Finally, if you could select any one player from the Sheffield United team to sign for Brighton, who would it be and why?
Owen – Can I take the manager? I like Potter but the job Wilder has done has been sensational! Otherwise would just go for John Fleck, his runs from midfield are so hard to pick up and that’s something we are lacking is someone driving beyond the striker and offering a different goal threat.
Louis – Wow that’s a really tough question as I don’t think Sheffield United have any one player that outshines the rest. But I’d probably say John Fleck, I love his energy and the fact he can chip in with goals and assists as well