Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp makes a big admission about tonight's clash with West Ham

Billy Sharp admits it is vital Sheffield United score first when they face West Ham tonight, after revealing how difficult it is to chase games in the Premier League.

Monday, 15th February 2021, 6:01 am

Despite winning six of their last nine outings in all competitions, Chris Wilder’s side head to east London locked in a battle for survival at the bottom of the table with only 15 matches of their season remaining.

United hopes of survival were undermined by a miserable start to the campaign which saw them lose 15 of their first 17 fixtures since finishing ninth last term.

Although Sharp insists relegation can still be avoided, he acknowledged it is vital they learn the lessons of their recent meetings with both Newcastle and Manchester United - which saw United take the lead before going on to claim all three points. This month’s win over fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion was the first time they had triumphed after falling behind since beating AFC Bournemouth at Bramall Lane a year ago.

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“We’ve not lost many games by two of three goals,” Sharp said. “We’ve always been in games, it’s just about getting that first goal which is so important in the Premier League. It gives you something to hold on to and build on. That’s something we need to do again on Monday.”

“We also need to cut out individual and collective mistakes, because we’ve made a lot of them this season and we didn’t make many last season. That’s the small margins.”

All but four of the defeats United suffered before beating Steve Bruce’s side came via a single goal. United triumphed by the same margin when Bristol City visited South Yorkshire in the FA Cup last week, with Sharp’s second-half penalty setting up a quarter-final tie against Chelsea.

“That’s six games in nine, so we’re winning more than we are losing at the minute which we weren’t doing at the start,” Sharp said. “Another good bonus for us (against City) was the clean sheet, because we know if we can keep them then we can score goals.

Billy Sharp celebrates his goal against Bristol City in the FA Cup: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“Yes, we need to win a lot of games, but it’s good to be going into West Ham on the back of one.”

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and David Moyes of West Ham: Darren Staples/Sportimage
Billy Sharp is in fine form for Sheffield United en route to east London: Andrew Yates/Sportimage