Former Arsenal striker Paul Merson has admitted that he thinks Sheffield United have “every chance” of qualifying for next season’s Champions League (via Sky Sports).
The Blades have enjoyed a dream return to the Premier League having come up from the Championship last season and after 26 matches they are sitting pretty in sixth place, just two points adrift of Chelsea in fourth (BBC Sport).
Therefore they are firmly in the race for the top four, or top five as it has now become given that Manchester City have been banned from European competitions by UEFA (BBC Sport).
Merson thinks that Chris Wilder’s side could well secure Champions League football this season, suggesting that their options in the striking department may give them an edge over their rivals.
Speaking in his latest column on Sky Sports, Merson said: “Sheffield United are massive players in the Champions League race. With Manchester United, you’re talking about one of the biggest clubs in the world not having a centre forward. They’re playing with Daniel James up front, who sooner or later has to be taken out of the team.
“When you look at Chelsea, you’re not going to get into the top four with Michy Batshuayi up front. He’s not good enough, so you’re looking at two teams who are so weak up front, that I honestly think Sheffield United have every chance this season. Neither Chelsea nor Manchester United seem to have the guile to break teams down.
“I give Sheffield United every chance as these teams aren’t dominant anymore. You’re talking about three of the biggest clubs in the league – Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea – and one injury means they’ve not got a centre forward.
“You look at Sheffield United, they’ve got three or four centre forwards. They’re not top-drawer strikers but they can come in when someone’s injured. You won’t see them playing with no centre forward up front.”
Merson certainly has a point here, each of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United do have significant problems in the striking department at the moment.
Spurs have arguably been hit the hardest, with Son Heung-min’s potentially season-ending injury (Dan Kilpatrick) coming just a month after Harry Kane was ruled out until at least April (tottenhamhotspur.com). Between them, they have scored 33 goals this term (Transfermarkt) and they now have just one recognised striker that is fit – 18-year-old Troy Parrott.
It means that all three are weakened at the moment, which could well open the door for Sheffield United who have been consistent throughout the season.
Added to that, they also have plenty of strikers with Billy Sharp, Oli McBurnie, Lys Mousset, David McGoldrick and Richairo Zivkovic all in their squad. So if they suffer any injuries, they will not be short of options up front and that could give them the edge over their rivals who have been blunted by injuries of late.
Sheffield United fans, can you qualify for the Champions League next season? Let us know your thoughts below…
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