How Sheffield United and Chelsea compare on Europe's finishing table
Sheffield United will face some of the Premier League’s most clinical finishers when Chelsea visit Bramall Lane tomorrow, according to a study undertaken by one of football’s most respected research units.
Academics working on behalf of the CIES Football Observatory, an independent centre based in Switzerland, have calculated that only five teams in the division require fewer shots to score a goal than Thomas Tuchel’s side.
This weekend’s visitors find the back of the net once every 7.4 attempts on goal according to the unit’s statisticians, who have analysed shooting patterns across all of Europe’s major leagues. United are at the bottom of the rankings in the English top-flight (16.5) with Burnley (16.1) the next worst performers.
With Tuchel’s players performing favourably in front of goal, Chris Wilder must give even greater thought to his defensive choices ahead of this weekend’s game. Ethan Ampadu, on loan from Stamford Bridge, is ineligible for selection against his parent club while George Baldock has joined Enda Stevens, Jack O’Connell and Ben Osborn on the treatment table. However, after United published a picture of Osborn taking part in a training session on their social media accounts following Tuesday’s win over West Bromwich Albion, hopes have been raised that the former Nottingham Forest midfielder, who has spent much of his career in South Yorkshire at wing-back, could return to action against the six-time champions.
“Some of the lads who have been out are getting closer, as you would expect,” Wilder said following the meeting with Sam Allardyce’s side. “Hopefully that continues to be the case because, to win games in this division, we need to be firing on all cylinders and have as many of our best players available as possible.”
Bristol City, who face United in the FA Cup fifth round next week, are ranked as the 10th most ruthless team in the Championship (8.6) while West Ham (7.8) and Fulham (13.3) are eighth and 18th in the top-flight respectively.
Despite preparing for the meeting with Chelsea having won five of their last seven outings in all competitions, Wilder will be keen for United to improve their fortunes in front of goal as they attempt to claw back the 11 point gap separating them from safety.
“It’s the big moments, the ones we’ve spoken about so often this season, that are so, so important,” he said. “Fortunately, we’ve started to take more of them lately and I think that’s been reflected (in results).
“But we’re not just talking about big moments in front of goal, we are also talking about big moments in all other areas of the pitch as well, including people either making saves or taking the right decisions in certain situations. They all count.”
SV Hamburg (4.7), of the German second tier, top the complete list, ahead of Olympiacos (5.2) and Bayern Munich (5.3). United are actually one of the most inefficient clubs in Europe, with six squads below them on the CIES list; including Swiss outfit FC St Gallen and Rotor Volgograd of Russia.