Sheffield United: McBurnie, fine margins and a street fighter strikes again - Final verdict on win at West Brom

Sheffield United enjoyed a long-awaited return to winning ways as they came back from West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon with all three points.
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It was United's first win in seven and may only be a little step forward, but United looked much more like the swaggering side we saw before the international break at times as they went 2-0 up at the break, with Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye notching their seventh goals of the season.

We had a look at some of the key talking points from the game...

Are the fine margins finally turning?

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In previous games since the international break many of United's games have followed a similar pattern - profligacy in front of goal and key mistakes at the other end being punished. Their output after the international break is of marked difference to before it and three of their goals came in one game, a crazy 3-3 draw with Blackpool.

But at the Hawthorns there were signs that the tide may be turning. Early on former Blade Matt Phillips broke clear and when many in the ground were expecting the opening goal, Phillips instead tried to find a teammate and lost his footing.

Karlan Grant also should have done better with a chance but when United got theirs in the first half, they took them clinically. Whenever the Baggies did break through, they were repelled - either by their own mistakes or good defending from the Blades. Long may it continue!

Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie were on target for Sheffield United against West Bromwich Albion: Andrew Yates / SportimageIliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie were on target for Sheffield United against West Bromwich Albion: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie were on target for Sheffield United against West Bromwich Albion: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Oli is a man transformed

How easy did the striker make his goal look? A touch to create the angle and a lovely, languid sidefoot into the bottom corner. It's hard, impossible even, to imagine him even trying such a thing before his purple patch began at Luton - he may not even have been in a position to do so.

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But scoring goals can transform a player and that seems to be the case with McBurnie. But his goal was arguably not even his most impressive contribution of the game. At the other end, he was unreal in terms of defensive headers - one, just before the break, saw him appear to rise to about nine foot tall to clear.

The street fighter strikes again

Carl Asaba, himself a former striker of repute, described him as the best player in the division and when he's on form, it's hard to argue against Iliman Ndiaye's status. Involved in both goals - scoring the first, creating the second - and so good otherwise, it's hard to shrug off the feeling that we won't see much more of him in a United shirt if he carries on.

His speed, trickery - including one casual nutmeg in the second half - and vision were unreal here but his biggest strength is arguably, well, his strength. He is virtually impossible to knock off the ball - perhaps a remnant of his street football days - and it must be a horrible proposition for a defender to come up against him and try and stop him. Hopefully it will prove beyond Bristol City's defenders at Ashton Gate on Tuesday evening, too - on this form, who can back against Ndiaye featuring prominently at this winter's World Cup?