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Opinion: Sheffield United’s tactics are a lesson for top-six sides

Sheffield United have been one of the most impressive sides in the Premier League this season, with the club in contention for European qualification in their first season back in the top flight.

The Blades are in seventh place, two points behind Manchester United in fifth, but with a game in hand.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has built a formidable team that can go toe-to-toe with any side in the division with their tactical flexibility and relentless work rate.

The Brammall Lane outfit’s tactical structure was covered by Tifo Football, which highlighted the progress made under Wilder since he took over in 2016.

The Blades play a 5-3-2 system, which transitions into a 3-5-2 in attack and is highly fluid, involving overlapping centre-backs and midfielders going out wide.

Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell are the two wider centre-backs who often find themselves in advanced positions, regularly in the inside channel offering support to the wing backs.

John Fleck and John Lundstram are midfielders who run tirelessly, getting in behind the opposition defence while also creating shooting opportunities for strikers and themselves by pulling defenders out of position.

The Blades wing-backs often make runs inwards to create space out wide for a runner or to overload the penalty box if the ball is on the other side of the pitch.

In defence, Sheffield United are disciplined marshaled by an impressive Dean Henderson in goal and John Egan acting as a sweeper in the middle centre back role.

The Blades don’t press high often and their two strikers cover the channels and passing lanes which allows the midfield to support the wing backs if needed.

Wilder has assembled a very well drilled side which has the edge of unpredictability in them and one can very well expect this side to bring their creative system to Europe next season.

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