Take away the first six minutes of their season, and Sheffield United’s matches have been very different. It should make for an interesting contrast at Bramall Lane tomorrow.
I believe Leeds’ man-to-man marking has been partly responsible for conceding so many but that is not to say they should abandon it because it is also a great strength. When it works, it works brilliantly but there were moments against Fulham when Liam Cooper was drawn out of position because Kalvin Phillips was beaten in midfield.
That is reflected in the fact they have won one, lost one in the league, whereas the Blades are still to get going.
Leeds were always going to miss Ben White, back at Brighton and Hove Albion after last season’s successful loan, and it certainly did not help that Cooper missed the opening-day defeat at Anfield through injury.
You can see players getting sharper from one game to the next. It is not that they are unfit, but match fitness and sharpness are something different.
Players are used to finishing a season, having a couple of weeks off, then building up their fitness gradually over pre-season.
It feels like the lack of preparation is affecting teams more defensively.
Sometimes attacking play can be very much off the cuff. Whereas defensive play is all about being organised, attacking is more about being unpredictable and sometimes comes from being a little bit disorganised. Defensively, it is so important not just to have ability but to know what the players around you are going to do.
Partnerships are so important all over the field, especially at centre-back, and new ones take time. The quick turnaround since last season and an international break just before the domestic campaign kicked off has denied new signings that. Leeds’ new centre-backs Robin Koch and Diego Llorente are having to learn on the job.
Although their styles and set-ups are very different, both teams clearly work very hard on defending. Every player knows their job and where they are supposed to be at any given time.
One of the most impressive things about Sheffield United under Chris Wilder has always been how organised they are, and although they are yet to win this season, that has still been in evidence most of the time.
They gave Wolverhampton Wanderers a decisive two-goal head start but held Burnley to a 1-1 League Cup draw (the Clarets won on penalties) and defended extremely well with 10 men for 77 minutes to limit Aston Villa to a set-piece goal, John Lundstram even missing a penalty at 0-0.
You might think crowds make teams attack more because they feel the fans push them on and forget their defensive jobs, so maybe it is surprising these goals have come behind closed doors.
I just hope players do not pick up injuries through fatigue because they are such well-oiled machines. Thankfully, so far it has just meant lots of goals, which is what I and most fans want to see but managers hate.
I expect that again tomorrow.
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