Blades out to repeat successful first season

Sports

Chris Wilder hopes Sheffield United can match the standards they set last season as they begin the new Premier League campaign against Wolves.

The Blades were the surprise package in the division last term, challenging for European qualification in their first season after promotion.

Wilder’s side ultimately had to settle for a comfortable top-half finish, but the manager is now determined to ensure there is no drop-off.

United have made a host of signings, including the notable captures of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale – returning to his former club – and Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu on loan.

“Will it be a failure if we [just] stay in the division again? I don’t know about that,” Wilder said. “But can we achieve what we did last season? That has to be the aim.

“We feel we have brought players in to improve the group and now we have to go and produce what we produced last year.”

Much of Nuno Espirito Santo’s focus at Wolves in the build-up to the match was on his own club’s efforts in the transfer market.

Fabio Silva, Marcal and Vitinha have each arrived in the week leading up to the start of the season, but Nuno insists they are not done yet.

“The situation is clear, the market is open,” Nuno said. “We have to keep on working and be ready for things that can happen. The squad is not complete yet.”

Wolves have lost right-back Matt Doherty to Tottenham, but Nuno did not begrudge the player that move.

He added: “We will miss him, we wish him all the best, and it’s up to us to find solutions.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sheffield United – Sander Berge

Midfielder Berge arrived as Sheffield United’s record signing in January, a transfer that was considered a significant coup. But the new man struggled in his first few months as the Premier League. His pre-season was disrupted by international duty, but Berge must aim to improve.

Wolves – Raul Jimenez

Wolves are belatedly making moves in the market, but there remains no doubt who their main man is. Jimenez has been outstanding since arriving at Molineux two years ago and will again be relied upon to provide the side’s chief goal threat.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sheffield United are yet to lose on the opening day of a Premier League season, winning two and drawing two.

– Wolves have lost 12 of their past 15 top-flight matches in Yorkshire (2-1-12), last winning there back in March 1981 against Leeds United.

– Last season, Sheffield United recorded just 114 shots on target, fewer than any other Premier League side.

– Jimenez scored 27 goals in all competitions last season, the third-most of any Premier League player after Raheem Sterling (31) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29).

– Wilder has won 99 of his 195 games in charge of Sheffield United in all competitions. Victory here would see him become the first Blades manager to reach 100 victories in fewer than 200 matches.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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