Sheffield United – Match Report vs Leeds United 26/09/20

Sheffield United hosted Leeds in the hotly anticipated return of the Yorkshire derby. It was a competitive game with both sides creating good chances despite the low scoring result. Both keepers were called in to action and both made great saves, with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier winning MOTM. Sheffield United won the expected goals battle 1.71 – 1.32 so they will be disappointed to lose 1-0. Both teams lined up in their traditional formations, with Leeds playing in their 4-1-4-1 formation and Sheffield United lining up in their 3-5-2 formation. With John Egan and Jack O’Connell both injured for Sheffield United, Ethan Ampadu and Jack Robinson slid into the back three.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for their level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ethan Ampadu

Player Profile

  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 14/09/2000
  • Current Club: Sheffield United, on loan from Chelsea
  • Career: Exeter City, Chelsea, RB Leipzig (L), Sheffield United (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Ampadu surprisingly started in the middle of the back three today. Ampadu stands at just under 6 feet and doesn’t have a physical build although he is quite strong when shielding the ball and he isn’t afraid to get stuck in to challenges and aerial battles. Ampadu did struggle in the air against Bamford and I’m surprised the Leeds striker didn’t try and exploit Ampadu in the air more. Ampadu misjudged a free header that skimmed off the top of his head and he mistimed a rash clearance that both led to chances for Leeds. A positive aspect of Ampadu’s game was his defensive positioning, he was positioned very well from crosses and also had a good reading of the play and was able to intercept balls played into Bamford’s feet by getting their first. Ampadu also tracked runners in behind and was able to snuff out any danger from Leeds’ through balls.

Ampadu was very comfortable on the ball and alternated between playing in the middle of the back three and playing as the left centre back. He used both feet well and didn’t have to adjust his touch or body position to play on his stronger right foot which was good. The Welsh international played a very accurate low bouncing pass into the forwards feet which had to be hit with power in order for the pass to not be intercepted, he also attempted several long diagonals to the Sheffield United wing backs. Ampadu liked to dribble with the ball when Leeds sat back, and he exploited some spaces and then made a good pass.

Overall, it was a promising performance from Ampadu who hasn’t had much game time recently, his passing ability was very good and general defending was solid, but I still have some doubts about his aerial ability which could be exploited by tall strikers.

Rating – A2

Oliver Burke

Player Profile

  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 07/04/1997
  • Current Club: Sheffield United
  • Career: Nottingham Forest, Bradford City (L), RB Leipzig, West Bromwich Albion, Celtic (L), Alavés (L), Sheffield United
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Secondary Position: Striker / Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Burke is very tall and has a slim build and played in a front two against Leeds, he has great pace which was his main asset for a direct Sheffield United. Burke made several blind runs in behind the Leeds defense which caused confusion and made it hard to defend for Leeds, however when he got the ball under control he had little support with him, or in the box which slowed down the attack. Moreover, Burke liked to come short and receive the ball into his feet, he often laid the ball off with his first touch which was very effective when it came off, which was the majority of the time. In general his passing was very good and accurate. The Scotsman used his pace effectively on the counter to drive at the Leeds defence, he liked to dribble inside from the left wing which led to a very nice reverse through ball to his strike partner, However, his decision making was slightly suspect at times – when he arguably should have passed the ball when he took on the shot and vice versa.

When out of possession, Burke showed great determination to win the ball back, especially within 5 seconds of Sheffield United giving the ball away in and around the Leeds penalty box. He applied pressure to the man with the ball including making a good slide tackle, although he did give away a foul due to his physical pressure. He also knew when to sit back and screen when Sheffield United let Leeds have possession.

Burke was withdrawn on the 70th minute as the strikers for Sheffield United almost always are, and the physical presence of Oli McBurnie was arguably more effective than Burke’s style of play. Nonetheless, Burke was a great option for Sheffield United especially his good link up play when he came short, and his constant movement in behind. His game was summed up when he made a blind run in behind, kept the ball in whilst falling over the barriers but got back up instantly and got involved in the attack again. B2 seems a harsh rating but he definitely has potential to become a regular starter and be a great asset for a mid-table club.

Rating – B2

Aaron Ramsdale

Player Profile

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 14/05/1998
  • Current Club: Sheffield United
  • Career: Sheffield United, AFC Bournemouth, Chesterfield (L), AFC Wimbledon (L), Sheffield United
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Right

I previously scouted Ramsdale for Bournemouth last year and he didn’t convince me. However, against Leeds he seemed more mature and played well. His general hands and shot stopping was faultless throughout the game; he made saves that were expected of him but most importantly he parried the shots away from danger and away from the penalty box where Leeds attackers were lurking. Ramsdale also caught a dangerous low cross / shot that he easily could have spilled for a Leeds tap-in. Ramsdale’s footwork was quick and enabled him to get across his goal to make a diving save from an unexpected shot. He went with both hands just getting fingertips to it, but if I am being picky then he should have gone with just one hand for a larger reach so he could have got a stronger hand on it.

Ramsdale was convincing in the air although he is relatively small for a goalkeeper, he caught a corner despite there being lots of bodies around him, he also opted to punch one cross and got a good distance on it. Another plus of the goalkeeper’s game was his kicking, he prefers to kick off the floor rather than out of his hands. His goal kicks and general distribution was very accurate, often finding target man David McGoldrick and he got impressive distance on his kicks.

Ramsdale had a faultless game apart from his positioning, on some occasions he came off his line quickly and swept up long loose balls from Leeds, however on some occasions his starting position was poor and was slow to react to through balls that the Sheffield United defenders wanted him to come and collect, this led to a bit of nervousness in the Sheffield United defence and was almost capitalised by Leeds when Ramsdale was slow off his line and the Leeds player took the ball round him but the shot was cleared off the line. He also lost his bearings when a cross from deep was whipped in and was safely going out for a goal kick until he was unsure of where his goalposts were and he made a late diving save to needlessly parry it out for a corner.

Overall, Ramsdale was impressive and his shot stopping is his main asset however I do have my concerns about his consistency and alertness to danger and I wouldn’t be comfortable with him starting for England or a top 8 team for example.

Rating – B1

Sander Berge

Player Profile

  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 14/02/1998
  • Current Club: Sheffield United
  • Career: Asker Fotball, Vlerenga Fotball, KRC Genk, Sheffield United
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Berge is a player who hasn’t reached his high potential since arriving in England in January. He is extremely tall at 6’4 and uses his long limbs well both in attack and defence. Berge didn’t have to directly mark anyone due to Leeds’s fluid formation. He was very passive in the first half and wasn’t involved at all, he just drifted across the pitch when out of possession and he let the other two Sheffield United midfielder pass the ball about and try and create something.

After the break, the Norwegian was a completely different player. He was much more active defensively, picking up loose balls and being physical when Leeds players came into his space. He was effective in winning the ball back due to his long legs making tackles, when he did win the ball back it was very hard to take the ball off him due to his large build and he used his arms to stop opposition players from getting too close to him. Berge was a lot more energetic in the second half and was found on the right-hand side of midfield a couple of times when there was space for him to run into. His dribbling wasn’t the best, especially in close spaces however when having space to dribble into he did so effectively and showed good drive. Berge doesn’t have much pace or acceleration and he slowed down a few counter-attacks for Sheffield United due to his slow pace and he was fairly slow in releasing the ball at times.

Overall, it was a tale of two halves for Berge so it is difficult to make a rounded judgement on him but he needs to be involved in both sides of the game more often as he is too invisible when I have seen him play. He does however have a very high ceiling and great potential to be a very solid player for a mid-table premier league club.

Rating – B2

Written by Andrew Hunter / @HunterAnalysis on twitter

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