As it happens, I believe I know the exercise they’re doing here. It’s this one:
Good player/sign juxtaposition here. This photo might come in handy after the transfer window opens.
Spurs make two changes to the side that flunked their Carabao Cup final test last weekend: Winks and Moura are out, Bale and Alli in.
Sander Berge is back in the Sheffield United squad, for the first time since the defeat to Manchester United on 17 December. In 20 games since his injury the Blades have been the second worst team in the division (after Southampton), and had the season started then they would now be one win (and some goal difference) away from Newcastle in 16th and safety. They have won 0.8 points per game in this period. This isn’t great, but it’s a massive improvement: in 13 games with Berge in the squad they won one point at 0.077 points per game.
The team sheets have been handed in, and the names upon them were these:
Sheffield United have won four away points so far this season, seven fewer than the next worst travellers, West Brom. This, it goes without saying, is rubbish. There have been other teams with terrible away records: last year Norwich only won six; the year before Fulham won five; Hull got six in 2016-17, as did Aston Villa the previous year. A few teams have won seven. But not since 2009-10 has a team won as few points away from home across a full Premier League season as four (Burnley, on that occasion), while it took the record-breaking Derby side of 2007-08 to get fewer, only managing three. Aaron Ramsdale, relegated with Bournemouth last season and the Blades this, last kept a clean sheet in an away league game in December 2019, at Chelsea.
The Blades could still remove themselves from that conversation entirely, with visits to Everton and Newcastle still to come even after today. It will only take one little, teensy-weeny win. So there’s that. And they haven’t been involved in a goalless draw since the 10th game from the end of last season (and Spurs have only had one this season), making some kind of goalscoring look likely. Plus Spurs continue to chase a place in Europe next season, and are just two points behind West Ham in fifth.
We’re beyond the stage where you go into most league games feeling that everything is to play for. But there’s something to play for, and that’ll do for now. Welcome!