Sheffield United: Why events at Chelsea revealed so much about the personality of Chris Wilder's team

What had threatened to become a lesson in the importance of small details became one in the art of never giving up instead.

Sunday, 1st September 2019, 7:42 pm
Sheffield United were two goals down at Chelsea: James Wilson/Sportimage

Two goals down to the five-time Premier League champions and by their manager's own admission looking a pretty awe-struck bunch, Sheffield United were in danger of suffering a beating by Chelsea following a careless first-half performance. But Callum Robinson's strike immediately after the interval changed the course of the game. To such an extent that, by the time Lys Mousset glanced the ball beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga, even Frank Lampard refused to try and pretend the visitors were not worthy of their point.

It spoke volumes, about both his team's Premier League potential and the standards they have set, that Chris Wilder departed Stamford Bridge with a pang of regret. Had they taken care of business at the back, he ventured during the post-match briefing, United might well have secured an even more eye-catching result.

"I thought we deserved it," Wilder said. "But I was disappointed with their goals. We could have done better on both. Take nothing away from the boys. How can you? Still, we know we should have kept them out."

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lys Mousset equalises at Stamford Bridge: James Wilson/Sportimage

Wilder was referring to the lapses in concentration which presented Tammy Abraham with his brace, not the course of a fixture which would later hinge on two pivotal moments. Like Lampard, who had revealed his admiration for United's players and coaching staff beforehand, the 51-year-old ensured this at times furious contest took place against a backdrop of mutual respect. But it revealed plenty about the character of United;s squad - and the personalities of the individuals within it - that the men at the heart of those critical junctures had earlier been guilty of making big mistakes. Robinson, who converted Enda Stevens' cross to claim his first top-flight effort, missed a glorious chance to reduce the deficit before Abraham's second. Then Dean Henderson, responsible for bundling the ball into the Chelsea youngster's path under pressure from Christian Pulisic, made a superb save to deny him a hat-trick. With the excellent Stevens tormenting the hosts down the flanks, few inside the ground could claim to be completely surprised when, as they slid in to meet Robinson's centre, Kurt Zouma's clearance appeared to bounce off Mousset before nesting in the back of the net.

The away end went delirious. Wilder was delighted. But, with John Egan and Jack O'Connell failing to deal with Jorginho's lofted pass before Abraham's second of the afternoon, he left the capital wondering what might have been.

"There was nothing wrong with our shape to begin with," Wilder said. "But we stood off them a bit and then gave some silly things away. But the boys, all of them, dug in and dug it out. And that's what being at this level is all about."

Callum Robinson celebrates his goal: James Wilson/Sportimage