The fixture list has been pretty hard on Sheffield United at the beginning of this season.
This isn’t a case of looking for excuses after what has been a poor start to the new campaign. Nor is it retrofitting an argument based on current form.
When looking at how the Premier League table finished last term, the Blades have had it tough in the early weeks.
United finished ninth in 2019/20 in their first top flight season in 12 years. Yet by the time the full-time whistle goes in their match at Chelsea on Saturday evening, the South Yorkshire side will have faced five teams that finished above them last campaign. In just eight games.
As well as the Blues, that includes champions Liverpool and Manchester City, who finished second. Manchester United are the only top four team they won’t have faced at this early stage.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal, who ended seventh and eighth respectively, round off the quintet.
Aside from that they have admittedly faced two newly promoted sides in Fulham and Leeds United. And one that only avoided relegation on the final day in Aston Villa.
They lost two of those and picked up their only point of 2020/21 so far against the Cottagers. However, their 1-0 defeats to Villa and Leeds could legitimately have gone the other way.
Don’t panic, the fixture list gets better for Sheffield United
This honestly isn’t a case of clutching at straws. Teams can only play what is put in front of them and the Blades haven’t been good enough in that regard.
They had a trip to Stamford Bridge early last campaign too and came away with well fought 2-2 draw.
But playing five of the eight best teams in the country last year in the first eight games is tough. And after this weekend, things get a little easier.
Following their trip to West London, they then host West Ham United and play West Bromwich Albion away. The two are currently 14th and 18th respectively.
If the Blades remain without a win after that then it truly is a crisis.
Yet starting with West Ham, they only play two sides that finished above them last season in their next 10 league fixtures.
Hopefully results will have balanced themselves out a bit more by that point.