A John Lundstram brace and a hattrick of assists from Lys Mousset saw Sheffield United cruise to a classy 3-0 win against Burnley on Saturday afternoon, a win that propelled the Blades to 6th in the Premier League table.
As the drizzle swept down over an overcast Bramall Lane, Blades fans would’ve been forgiven for expecting a tough and uncomfortable encounter, particularly given the usually resolute nature of the visitor’s defence.
But shortly after the Kop’s rousing rendition of the Greasy Chip Butty song, the atmosphere picked up as Chris Wilder’s side went about fighting the dreariest of November days with a display of flair, hunger and composure.
Straight from the off United looked cool and composed in possession, Enda Stevens, Jack O’Connell and Oliver Norwood in particular passing their way out of the Burnley press with ease.
As the home side started to find their feet up front, Burnley looked to launch a couple of counterattacks, but failed to find an outlet when they crossed halfway.
The first chance of note came twelve minutes in, but David McGoldrick could only stab wide after Matt Lowton failed to clear. The Irish attacker would be more decisive moments later.
After wing-back Stevens played him in down the left flank, McGoldrick whipped in a low cross that was brilliantly flicked back by Mousset, into the path of the onrushing Lundstram.
The midfielder made no mistake from twelve yards, coolly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of Nick Pope’s goal.
Moments later Burnley felt that they should’ve had a route back into the game. As United scrambled a corner clear, the ball appeared to strike O’Connell on the arm, but the VAR instructed referee Simon Hooper to play on.
The Blades continue to assert their dominance, with Mousset doing his best to make the afternoon a misery for Burnley centre backs Ben Mee and James Tarkowski. The tricky Frenchman effortlessly knocked the ball past the former, only for his scuffed cross to come to nothing.
With halftime looming, Lundstram, having previously only scored four goals for the Blades since joining in 2017, scored his second of the day.
As with the first goal, Stevens and McGoldrick combined well on the left wing, but this time it was the former who sent in an inviting low cross. Again, the intended target was Mousset, but the Frenchman’s miss-timed attempt to guide the ball into the corner set up Lundstram with an easy far post finish.
Sean Dyche would’ve been eager to get his players in for halftime at this point, but he could do nothing about the shambolic defending that gifted United a third a moment later.
Almost straight from kick-off, Tarkowski turned into trouble and lost out to Mousset, who cut inside before slipping John Fleck in behind the backline. The defensive midfielder ran on to the through ball and guided a first time finish past Pope, cueing jubilant scenes amongst the home supporters who could scarcely believe what they were witnessing.
The second half saw no more goals as both sides spurned a number of decent chances.
The visitors put in a more spirited display for their sizeable travelling support, and would’ve clawed a goal back early on had Ashley Barnes not blazed over from six yards.
At the other end United showed no signs of slowing down, as Chris Wilder brought on Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie, but a number of decent stops from Pope ensured that Burnley’s pride wasn’t dented any further.
Sharp twice had the opportunity to add to his one goal this season, but the club captain fluffed his lines on both of the occasions he found himself on the end of promising counter attacks.
With 25 minutes left Dyche’s side again had reason to feel aggrieved, as Barnes appeared to be held inside the box, but like in the first half the referee stood firm and no penalty was given.
Despite Burnely’s visible improvement in the second half, their total of zero shots on target was telling and they can’t really argue with the final result.
For Sheffield United, it was a clinical first half display that saw them through, something that will please Wilder after the Blades’ goal-shy performances so far this campaign.
Post-match, Wilder praised his side’s energy and composure: “We wanted a quick start and we certainly got that.
“They took chances and pushed men forward in the second half, so it was important that we kept our shape all the way through”.
On the inspired individual performances of some of his players in particular, he added: “Lundstram’s a natural finisher as we’ve seen with his goals and I think Fleck is as well. He [Lundstram] was great against Arsenal and it’s continued.
“I thought Mousset was fabulous for us. He didn’t score today but he was involved in all the goals, his runs created the space for all three”.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche, while accepting that the better side won, was unhappy with some of the decisions that went against his side: “Both missed decisions would have got us out of jail. For me, it’s a handball and the second one is a push.
“The performance today was nothing to do with tactics, we were miles off. To be fair we were miles off where we’ve been this season”.
The result lifts United up to 6th in the Premier League table, while Burnley drop to 14th. Next up for the Blades is a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, before Manchester United visit Bramall Lane on 24 November.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram, Egan (Jagielka, 79’), Norwood (C), McGoldrick (McBurnie, 74’), Mousset (Sharp, 64’)
Unused subs: Freeman, Robinson, Moore, Bešić
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Cork, Tarkowski, Mee (C), Barnes, McNeil (Brady, 59’), Hendrick, Westwood, Rodriguez (Vydra, 78’), Pieters (Taylor, HT)
Unused subs: Gibson, Hart, Lennon, Bardsley
Man of the match: John Lundstram
Referee: Simon Hooper