How Sheffield United’s defensive record compares to worst in Premier League era

By Sports Desk February 19, 2024

Sheffield United’s fifth defeat of the season by five goals or more leaves Chris Wilder’s side facing the prospect of setting several unwanted Premier League records.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how their defensive record compares to the worst in the top flight’s modern era.

Blades cut down

United have lost 18 of their 25 league games this season, with only three wins, to prop up the table on 13 points – but even those figures do not fully illustrate their struggles.

They were beaten 8-0 by Newcastle at Bramall Lane in September and have lost their last two home games 5-0 to Aston Villa and Brighton, with further defeats by that scoreline at Arsenal in October and relegation-rivals Burnley in December – after which they sacked manager Paul Heckingbottom and reappointed Wilder.

Only two teams in Premier League history have previously conceded five goals or more on five occasions in the same season, though both went on to add a sixth.

Swindon’s 1993-94 relegation season included them losing 5-0 at home to Liverpool and Leeds as well as away to Villa, 5-1 at Southampton, 6-2 at Everton and 7-1 at Newcastle. Among Derby’s 29 defeats – in their 11-point season in 2007-08 – they lost 6-0 at Liverpool and at home to Villa, 5-0 at Arsenal and at home to West Ham, 6-1 at Chelsea and 6-2 to Arsenal.

The Blades had Mason Holgate sent off against Brighton when the game was still goalless to add to his nightmare season.

The defender is on loan from Everton, having spent the first half of the campaign at Championship side Southampton. In both loan spells, Holgate made his debut in a 5-0 defeat for his side – for Saints at Sunderland and the Blades against Villa.

Record pace

United have conceded the most goals ever through 25 games of a Premier League season, 65, and will need to improve to avoid breaking records for defensive futility set by the aforementioned Swindon and Derby teams.

The most goals conceded in a Premier League season is 100, by Swindon in their 42 games that season. Derby set the worst of the 38-game era, 89, as they also recorded the worst points total (11) and goal difference (-69) in any Premier League campaign.

The Blades have conceded an average of 2.60 goals per game, worse than Derby’s 2.34 and Swindon’s 2.38. Indeed, they are on course to concede 99 goals this season (98.80 at their average of 2.60) so are even at risk of breaking Swindon’s 42-game record.

An average goal difference of -1.72 per game over a 38-game season equates to -65.36, within four of Derby’s record.

They have at least already passed the Rams’ 11-point tally but they – and Burnley, also on 13 – could join only six previous teams who finished with under 20 points.

Their current 0.52 average per game equates to 19.76 over a full season, so any further drop-off would see them in the unwanted company of the Sunderland sides who managed just 19 points in 2002-03 and 15 in 2005-06, Portsmouth’s 19 in 2009-10, Villa (17 in 2015-16), Huddersfield (16 in 2018-19) and that history-making Derby team.

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