Sheffield United’s defence has been one of the key reasons behind the Blades’ success so far this season.
Up until the weekend, Chris Wilder’s men had the joint best defensive record in the league. Only a goal conceded at Spurs and a clean-sheet for Leicester bumped them off top spot.
The back three, marshalled by John Egan in middle, has been nothing short of superb so far. Egan, Chris Basham, and Jack O’Connell have been integral to the team’s success. Indeed, we looked at just how important Basham had become just yesterday.
Despite being so solid, United are far from a defensive team. Basham and O’Connell are top of the charts in terms of crosses delivered by centre-backs, while their marauding runs forward are causing opposition teams continuing headaches.
And a key stat revealed yesterday by the club’s official Twitter account, highlighted just how good the rearguard has been.
The stat showed that the Blades top the list when it comes to making defensive clearances. At 334, they sit above everyone else in the league.
Some might say this points to a team who invite pressure on and simply get their bodies in the way. But those who watch United on a regular basis will know that is not the case.
A number of excellent defensive performances this season have seen United keep five clean-sheets. That can’t be a coincidence when you couple it with this statistic.
Egan leads the way
The Irish defender has really come into his own this term. Following on from last season’s excellent form, he’s shown he is more than capable at Premier League level. He’s stifled the likes of Harry Kane, Aubameyang, and Ashley Barnes already this term.
Together with Basham and O’Connell, Egan has dominated from the back. Egan has made 68 of those clearances, with O’Connell just below on 64. Remarkably, Chris Basham is up above 80 in this category.
It’s little surprise, then, that the Blades have been so solid in defence with these three players putting everything on the line. Egan, quite impressively, has not even picked up a yellow card yet.