West Ham 1-1 Sheffield United: Talking Points from the London Stadium
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield analyses some of the talking points to emerge from today's match at the London Stadium, which finished all square when Lys Mousset cancelled-out Robert Snodgrass' first-half strike.
After watching him claim the only goal of the game against Arsenal on Monday night, many Sheffield United supporters will have raised an eyebrow after discovering Lys Mousset would start this fixture on the bench. Even more so when, after being introduced as a substitute, the Frenchman was on target for the second time in as many appearances. Although United may well have had tactical reasons for deploying Mousset in this manner against Manuel Pellegrini's side, fitness is also likely to be a factor. His finish, however, was one of real quality.
United's afternoon could best be described as a tale of two halves. During the first, which ended with them falling behind just before the interval, they were industrious but careless in possession. West Ham were also guilty of some woeful passing, with Fabian Balbuena rolling the ball out when unmarked at the back, midway through the opening period. But that was not Chris Wilder's concern. However, United did improve after the break and deserved their equaliser, although West Ham controlled the final stages and nearly snatched a winner when Robert Snodgrass struck a post.
It is no fluke that United are unbeaten away from home since January, when they were beaten at the Liberty Stadium by Swansea City. Although this was not their best performance of the campaign by any stretch oif the imagination, it did reveal all the qualities which make United so strong away from home. Yes, they were scrappy before the break. Yes, West Ham were presented with chances. But United were durable, dogged and got their reward for a much improved second-half display when Mousset equalised. Being able to shrug off the disappointment of conceding moments before the interval so easily is a sign of character.
It took an hour for the atmosphere inside the London Stadium to warm-up, despite the best efforts of the United supporters located behind one of its two goals. The design of the arena, even after a series of improvements to try and make it more football friendly, does not lend itself to the beautiful game. Yes, the ground is an impressive looking structure. But it remains better suited to athletics; the sport for which it was originally built. What happens on the pitch seems to suffer as a result, too.