Chris Basham believes that going into Christmas with a ten-point gap over their fellow newly-promoted sides is important for Sheffield United, but manager Chris Wilder has dismissed the notion of targeting specific matches.
READ MORE - Sheffield United ‘just had to keep ploughing away,’ says Chris Basham
The Blades have recorded back-to-back wins over Norwich City and Aston Villa in December, highlighting how they are the best of the sides new to this season's Premier League.
Despite finishing above United last season and having beaten Manchester City and drawn with Leicester City, the Canaries are one from bottom in the table, 13 points behind the seventh-placed Blades. The gap to Villa, outside the relegation on goal difference, is ten.
“A ten-point gap between us and Aston Villa is great for us,” said centre-back Basham, an ever-present in the league this season. “We've just got to keep ticking these games off.
“We're really enjoying the football, enjoying what we're doing.”
Ticking games off is how Wilder sees it too, and he insists there will no saving energy and opting for damage limitation in daunting Festive trips to Manchester City and Liverpool.
Some managers lower down the table have been known to focus their resources and players' minds on certain “winnable” matches, almost writing off those against the super clubs at the top end. Having already beaten Arsenal, drawn with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, and given Liverpool a real scare, the Blades are also able to treat this games as “no pressure” matches, but in a more positive way.
“There is a consistency with our attitude, there has to be,” commented Wilder. “There is obviously a lot of talk of raising your game against the big guns but there is three points at stake against anyone.
“Sometimes games likes Saturday's are more difficult in a way because of the familiarity between the two clubs. We had tight games against Villa last year, Norwich was the same and possibly they will look at us and think, 'How are they doing it? Why are they doing that?'
“Really, they know what we are about and will have fancied their chances against us. The same goes the other way, we know a lot about them.
“So to get the six points from those games is big.
“(To have) 25 points after 17 games is fab, but it is still for me onto the next game and onto sticking more points on the board.”
The Blades are at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, then host Watford on Boxing Day.
Despite being bottom of the table, the Hornets showed at Liverpool on Saturday they are not to be under-estimated under the new management of former Sheffield Wednesday captain Nigel Pearson.