Sheffield United: Lys Mousset demands attention but this Blades player deserves more

The London Stadium does not lend itself to football.

Sunday, 27th October 2019, 2:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 27th October 2019, 3:42 pm
Lys Mousset of Sheffield United celebrates scoring the equalising goal: James Wilson/Sportimage

What happens on the pitch, separated from the stands by an expanse of claret carpet, can make the actual match action feel incidental.

But in Lys Mousset, Sheffield United have acquired a player who simply demands attention. Be it by driving his Lamborghini sports car or, as happened on Saturday afternoon, producing superb finishes which decide the outcome of Premier League games.

The Frenchman's strike at West Ham, who appeared to be edging towards victory thanks to Robert Snodgrass' first-half effort, was reward for a combative if not entirely convincing performance from the visitors. It also, following his match-winning effort against Arsenal five days earlier, confirmed Mousset does not simply possess pace and raw, unadulterated power. He is equipped with a high level of technical expertise too.

"Lys came on and he gives us that explosiveness up top," his colleague Enda Stevens said. And I thought he took his goal really well.

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"He is going to be a real threat for us this season, they all are. We have got great strikers. Each and every single one of them play their part."

As Stevens pointed-out, United have accumulated a variety of different attacking options since being promoted last season. Billy Sharp is a poacher, David McGoldrick a creator while new arrivals Callum Robinson and Oli McBurnie provide industry and work rate. But for the time being at least, it is Mousset who is dominating the headlines having initially, following his sumer move from AFC Bournemouth, been something of a slow-burner.

The fact Chris Wilder chose to start him on the bench, after his exploits earlier in the week, confirmed fitness remains an issue.

"He is just a normal, laid-back guy," Stevens continued. He has bed in to what we are about and he is working hard on it.  And you can see that by his performances. He is on form now and he will only get better for us I think.

"He has got great English. He gets involved with the lads and loves being around us and I think he is really enjoying himself."

Despite appearing to aclimatise to life in the top-flight with encouraging ease - they ended the contest ranked seventh in the table - United remain a squad greater than the sum of its parts. So perhaps it was fitting, even though Mousset landed the most telling blow on a West Ham side with designs of qualifying for Europe, that one of his team mates emerged as the driving force behind this result.

Previously an unheralded figure at Bramall Lane, indeed there were suspicions he would be shunted through the exit door when United returned to the highest level, John Lundstram has instead become central to Wilder's plans.

His contribution in the capital, assisting his defenders as the hosts controlled the first-half before surging forward with venom as United seized the momentum after the break, was absolutely vital. Best known for his energy, Lundstram also delivered some excellent crosses into the box, although it was Stevens who provided the assist for Mousset.

"We had to see the first half hour out," Stevens said. "Our backs were up against the wall and our passing wasn't at it. They were dominating the game but we still created real opportunities to go and score but unfortunately we couldn't take those chances, just to give us that break from all the pressure. But they deserved to be 1-0 ahead at half time but in the second half we keep out fighting and really put them under pressure."

"We have a belief in how we play and we know that we can cause teams problems," he added. "We go out to win every game. It might not work that way and it might not happen for us but we prepare week in, week out to win each game. And that is how it will be all season."

Only three miles away from the Boleyn Ground, West Ham's new home is worlds apart when it comes to atmosphere and intimidation. Only the chants from the away end prevented the first 44 minutes of this game being played out in an eerie silence. Three sides of the area erupted when Snodgrass, after McGoldrick and Robinson had missed openings, fired the hosts in front. It was a lead they deserved. But so to was United's equaliser, which saw Mousset adjust his body, pick his spot in the bottom corner and sweep the ball across Roberto Jiménez Gago and into the back of the net.

"Every place you go to is tough and I feel that we have been in every game," Stevens said. "There has not really been a team that has ran over the top of us and we are fighting for every point we have earned."