New innovations in the English Premier League: CB Overlap Sheffield United

romotion teams are often considered one-sided. 

Those who have just risen to the top division are usually immediately strong candidates for degradation. But if you see the game Sheffield United, they seem to be able to dismiss that view.

Draw to face Bournemouth in the first week, Sheffield United managed to overthrow Crystal Palace with a score of 1-0 in the second week. With Aston Villa having suffered two defeats and Norwich City being beaten by Liverpool in the first week, Chris Wilder’s squad is the only promotion team that hasn’t lost.

Maybe it’s too early to judge Sheffield United to survive in the Premier League this season. But at least, they have a game that provides new innovations in the English Premier League. Using a 3-5-2 archetype, Wilder relied on his central defender to help the attack approach the opponent’s penalty box.

Usually, central defenders, whether it’s in the scheme of three defenders or four defenders, are relied on in building attacks through their ability to divide the ball in defense. Or they are relied upon by long accurate passes. But in Wilder’s scheme, center backs on both sides ( wide central defender ) have a duty to be in the opponent’s defense to protect possession and superior numbers of players on the wing.

Defenders assigned to advance by Wilder when attacking were back numbered 5, Jack O’Connel, and back numbered 6, Chris Basham. Both have been a mainstay of Wilder since playing in the Championship Division.

In the picture above seen in the Sheffield United match against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace, Basham and O’Connell are often in defense and assist the attack. 

Even their operands are actually more often done in the midfield area than the defense itself.

In theory, raising a central defender to the opponent’s defense line would certainly lead to space in his own defense. Or if the attack fails, then the opponent’s counterattack will be very dangerous because the Sheffield United center-back is not in defense.

But in practice, Sheffield United have only conceded one goal from these two matches. In fact, according to Whoscored , the number of shots taken by Sheffield United so far has only been 19 times or 9.5 per match. The number is the fourth smallest (with Brighton), only losing to Watford (17 shots), Everton (14) and Manchester City (8).

Basham and O’Connell actually only helped attack or 

overlapped only when Sheffield United attacked in each area. If Sheffield United attack through the right, then Basham will rise to accompany George Baldock ( right wingback ). O’Connell will approach Chris Egan (center back) and Oliver Norwood to guard against counterattacks or guard the opposing players. Conversely, if Sheffield United attack from the left, then O’Connell will overlap to accompany Enda Stevens ( left wingback ), Basham in defense.

But it did not rule out also Basham and O’Connell would cross the center line of the field to help the attack. 

If this happens, then Egan and Norwood’s task is to anticipate the opponent’s counterattack and guard the opponent’s attacker.

Sheffield United itself always loses the ball trying to regain possession or delay the opponent’s counterattack so that Basham / O’Connell who rises can return to defense. At the moment Sheffield United are the team with the most fouls (17.5 fouls per match). They also recorded 14 intercepts per match, the second highest number at the moment.

When not controlling the ball or when an opponent builds an attack, Sheffield United do not form a defense in their own defense. They still maintain density between players. Both wingbacks will try to suppress full-back opponents who have the ball as early as possible.

This scheme is somewhat effective in the first two matches of Sheffield United in the English Premier League this season. But actually, this scheme has been tested since in the Championship Division last season, where Sheffield was ranked second at the end of the standings with a record of conceding the fewest (41 goals in 46 matches) with Middlesbrough.

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