Sheffield United striker, Oli McBurnie, will be hoping to get the nod from Chris Wilder when the Blades host West Ham on Friday evening.
The big striker, a £20m summer signing from Swansea, has gradually worked his way back into contention of late. He started, and scored the winner, at Brighton just a few weeks back.
However, he’s well aware he has to share striking responsibilities. Lys Mousset has been in fine form, while David McGoldrick, despite not scoring, has contributed plenty.
But going into the game with the Hammers on Friday, McBurnie might hope to get a start for the Blades. Not least, because there’s a key reason why his inclusion might play into United’s hands.
Set-piece issues from both teams
West Ham might be struggling in the Premier League table but there’s one area where they sit in the top six.
That area is conceding goals from set-pieces. The Hammers have leaked seven goals this term from free-kicks or corners. Given the only teams to concede more from these situations are teams with equally bad or worse defences (Norwich and Arsenal, for example), it highlights a potential weakness in the Londoners. (Stats taken from Whoscored.com)
This is where McBurnie could come into his element. He’s already proved adept at attacking crosses. Indeed, his headed goal against Leicester earlier in the campaign was a fine example of this.
Furthermore, it might help United boost their own stats. Rather poorly, the Blades have scored just twice from set-pieces this season. In fact, only Watford have been less successful in the Premier League.
While it’s not the be-all and end-all, scoring from dead balls can be handy. Take Liverpool, for example, who have scored nine times from these scenarios. It’s little surprise, then, to see them at the top.
Oli McBurnie has improved in the last few weeks for the Blades. He has worked hard when given the chance and, as his goal at Brighton showed, he appears that little bit stronger and quicker.
That is a testament to both the United coaching staff and McBurnie himself, who has been putting the hard yards in.
He’s desperate to do well for the club after such a big-money move. A chance against West Ham on Friday, then, might just prove to be his time to shine.