Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said the 1-1 draw at Tottenham showed the Blades’ Premier League credentials after they were “ridiculed” at the start of the season.
George Baldock’s fortuitous equaliser saw United stretch their unbeaten league run to five games and their undefeated away record to six top-flight matches.
Baldock’s mis-hit cross – which came moments after the visitors had a goal disallowed for offside by the video assistant referee – evaded everyone inside the Spurs penalty area before finding the bottom corner.
“I’m proud of the players, the performance, and I thought we took the game to the opposition from the off,” said Wilder.
“We feel we have identity. We’ve restricted world class players to very few opportunities. I believe we were the better side today.”
The visitors fell behind against the run of play when Son Heung-min capitalised on Enda Stevens’ failed clearance before slotting the ball through Dean Henderson’s legs.
David McGoldrick thought he had equalised just two minutes after Son’s opener, but VAR replays showed that Lundstram’s toe had been marginally offside in the build-up – a decision that was so close it took almost four minutes to make.
“If they’re looking at lines, magnifying it and getting it right, then fine,” Wilder said of the disallowed goal. “Of course the length of time is disappointing for everybody, but if it’s offside, it’s offside.
“I’m more interested in the recovery of my players, how they went for the jugular to try and get back in the game. We were ridiculed at the start of the season for how we play but we’ve stuck to our guns.
“To go into the international break undefeated I think shows what we’re all about.”
The point lifts the Blades to fifth in the table, while Spurs drop to 12th.
Blades denied by VAR
Last weekend’s 3-0 win over Burnley lifted United up to sixth – their highest league position since the early 1970’s and five places above last season’s Champions League finalists in the standings.
Only third-placed Leicester had conceded fewer league goals than the Blades prior to this encounter – a record even more impressive when you consider Wilder’s side have already faced four of the Premier League’s current top-six this season.
Wilder, quite rightly, is keeping his players grounded with more than two-thirds of the campaign left to play, but if his team continue to display the qualities they showed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they should be able to stay in the top half of the table this season.
Not only were the visitors defensively organised, they created several clear-cut openings from which they should have opened the scoring.
Lundstram scuffed a low Stevens cross wide from a good position before rifling John O’Connell’s cutback against the post with Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga beaten.
After the break Lys Mousset drilled a low shot inches wide of the far post before McGoldrick’s disallowed strike, which VAR eventually chalked off because Lundstram’s toe was adjudged to have been in front of a Spurs defender’s kneecap.
There was a lengthy delay as the video replay officials scrutinised the evidence, zooming in and drawing a multitude of lines on the screen, before informing the referee it was no goal, to the delight of the home fans.
Baldock’s equaliser may have been fortunate, but a draw was the least Wilder and his players deserved.
Plenty to ponder for Pochettino
Tottenham’s 4-0 Champions League victory at Red Star Belgrade in midweek served as the perfect antidote to a difficult few days for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and his players.
Son, who was involved in the incident that led to Everton midfielder Andre Gomes’ horrific ankle injury at Goodison Park, scored twice in a comfortable win which boosted Spurs’ hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.
And once again Son was Spurs’ liveliest player on Saturday. He had his side’s first shot on target, nine minutes into the second half, but Henderson got down low to his left to palm the effort away.
He then capitalised on Stevens’ error and drilled home his eighth of the season, via the tiniest of deflections, under the Blades keeper.
However, the South Korean’s performance did little to mask the shortcomings of Pochettino’s side, who gifted the visitors possession on numerous occasions.
The Blades failed to capitalise on their hosts’ generosity until 12 minutes from time, when Baldock’s cross-shot found its way into the far corner.
The result means Spurs remain without a win in the league since beating Southampton at home on 28 September.
“The most difficult thing for us was to match their energy,” said Pochettino. “In the second half we were much better and matched them. I think they deserve one point.
“The reality is that, for different reasons, we are not showing the performances that we expect. The team is in a period where we are finding the best balance.
“I need to look forward and keep working and try to improve. We are not in a good position in the table.”
Man of the match – George Baldock (Sheffield United)
Blades stay unbeaten on the road – the stats
- Sheffield United are only the third newly-promoted side to avoid defeat in each of their opening six away games in a Premier League season, after Blackburn Rovers (first 8 in 1992-93) and Nottingham Forest (first six in 1994-95).
- Tottenham’s tally of 14 points is their lowest after 12 games to a Premier League season since 2008-09 (12).
- Tottenham have lost more points from winning positions than any other Premier League side this season (12).
- Sheffield United are unbeaten in 15 away league games (W5 D10), a run stretching back to January of last season, equalling their club record previously set in April 2009 (also 15 away league games unbeaten).
- Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target in the first half of a Premier League game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time, and the first in any home league match since January against Man Utd at Wembley.
- Son Heung-Min has scored five goals in his last five games for Tottenham in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 18 appearances for the club combined beforehand.
- George Baldock scored his first goal in 38 appearances in all competitions for Sheffield United since finding the net against Swansea City in the Championship in August 2018, one year and 97 days ago.
‘We are not showing the performances that we expect’ – what the managers said
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to the BBC: “It was an even game, difficult for us – they are a very good, organised team. It was difficult to play in the first half. We were better in the second half, but overall it’s a fair result.
“We knew very well how they play, they got a draw at Chelsea and they are playing so well. The most difficult thing for us was to match their energy.”
On the disallowed goal: “It happened with us against Leicester, similar to today. This type of situation is difficult to talk about but I think in every single fixture we are talking about the VAR.”
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, speaking to the BBC: “We defend from the front, we all have jobs to do. You know that they will, through natural ability and talent, create, but we stuck in there.”
On the disallowed goal: “The thing I didn’t get is the reset – I thought it would get reset and then away you go for the second phase.”
Spurs travel to London rivals West Ham United after the international break on Saturday, 23 November (12:30 GMT), while the Blades welcome Manchester United to Bramall Lane on Sunday, 24 November (16:30).