The Blades, who have lost eight of their nine fixtures this term, stay bottom of the table while West Ham climb to eighth. Sebastien Haller’s superb strike consigned winless Sheffield United to another Premier League defeat as West Ham moved into the top half of the table.
Chris Wilder’s side had started brightly and created several early openings but the Hammers took control as the hosts faded as an attacking force. Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek both had opportunities to score before Haller’s powerful 20-yard drive found the top-right corner.
Declan Rice then headed against the crossbar as the visitors sought to press home their advantage. Sheffield United did rally, with Oli McBurnie seeing a left-foot effort cannon back off the crossbar, but they are still yet to score in open play at Bramall Lane this season.
“We have earned the right to be here and have to do some things pretty quickly to stay in it and protect our status as a Premier League club,” said Wilder, whose side were ninth at the same stage last term.
“There’s a long way to go. Without being disrespectful to some of the places this football club has had to go, it is no good taking a backwards step and feeling sorry for yourself.” With a solitary point on the board, Sheffield United began this contest with the joint-lowest points tally at this stage of a Premier League season and without a victory since 11 July.
However, while aspects of this performance will have pleased manager Wilder, they again came down on the wrong side of a tight contest.
Six of the Blades’ eight defeats this season have been by a margin of one goal and on another occasion they might have been a couple of goals ahead before West Ham hit their stride.
John Egan’s searching pass provided George Baldock with a third-minute chance to open the scoring but the full-back was unable to beat Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski at the near post.
Fabianski then parried McBurnie’s rising half volley to safety during a forceful start by the Blades. But after failing to unlock the door their two main failings – a lack of goals and an inability keep a clean sheet – proved the difference again.
While there were signs that they are beginning to cope without the injured and influential Jack O’Connell in their defence – restricting the Hammers to just three shots on target – they were punished for a momentary lapse of concentration that allowed Haller the freedom to get his shot away under little pressure.
West Ham building momentumAfter coming through a tricky opening spell in the game, Hammers boss David Moyes will have been pleased by the way his improving side grew in stature and confidence.
West Ham have now lost just once in their past seven outings and always looked capable of scoring despite the continued absence of Michail Antonio with a hamstring injury.
Galvanised by England midfielder Rice and his Czech counterpart Soucek, the visitors established control and looked a threat down both flanks.
Both were key in snuffing out Sheffield United’s early spark and while it is not their forte, both will also think they could have capped fine performances with a goal.
While Rice was unfortunate after expertly meeting Aaron Cresswell’s cross from the left, Soucek somehow missed the target from five yards after a lovely cushioned header into his path from Haller.
Wing-back Arthur Masuaku’s driving runs were another feature of their play and his charge inside began the move that saw Coufal force a fine save from Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
‘I am there to lead them’ – what they said
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It wasn’t the system – it was players’ confidence and decision-making at key times that decided the result. It’s going to be that way when you have picked up one point from nine games.
“We’ll go again, we have to. I am there to lead them and I certainly enjoy that challenge.”
West Ham boss David Moyes, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “We were up against a team fighting hard. Clean sheets always give you a chance of winning games.
“We are keeping our feet on the ground. We know we are improving and doing a lot of good things. The one thing I will say is you tend to look at the table after 10 games and we have had a good start. I’d like to think we can get better. We are working hard every day.
“There might be periods in the season where we have to change system again. I want us to be flexible.”
Blades equal unwanted record – the stats
- Sheffield United have become the third side in Premier League history to pick up just one point (or fewer) from their opening nine games in a season, after Manchester City in 1995-96 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-00 (both sides relegated).
- West Ham are the first London side to win away at Sheffield United in the Premier League since Chelsea in October 2006 – sides from the capital had been winless in 11 such trips to Bramall Lane (D1 L10).
- Sheffield United have gone 13 consecutive matches without a victory across all competitions for the first time since October 2013 (also 13).
- West Ham are unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom, winning their past five in a row by an aggregate score of 14-4.
- Sebastien Haller (six) has scored at least twice as many goals as any other West Ham player in all competitions this season.
Sheffield United travel to West Bromwich Albion in their next Premier League game on Saturday, 28 November (20:00 GMT).
Source – BBC News