Premier League: Can the promoted sides start picking up points?
Played thirteen, drawn two, lost eleven. The Premier League results for the promoted teams currently make grim reading. Of the three, Sheffield United are the only sitting outside the relegation zone, above Everton and Burnley on goal difference.
It looks like the prospects of the most recently promoted sides stand in stark contrast compared to clubs in the same situation last year. All three of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest beat the drop last season. Admittedly it was only the fourth time in Premier League history that this phenomenon had happened, so it is unrealistic to expect it regularly. Regardless of this, it is still striking that all three current sides are yet to win a match.
So, regardless of results, have the performances been improving? And is a win on the horizon for any of the three?
After their second game of the season, a 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest, manager Paul Heckingbottom lamented the loss of Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye, along with other outgoings, including Billy Sharp. Heckingbottom believed that the squad had lost much of the quality and character that had brought them success in the Championship. It’s undeniable that Sheffield United have lacked a cutting edge, but their new signings are showing attacking promise.
Cameron Archer, signed from Aston Villa, scored on his debut against Everton. In central midfield, Gustavo Hamer, brought in from Coventry, has already scored two goals.
To boost their chances, they must also increase their ability to work the ball into dangerous areas. Sheffield United’s 5 goals have also come from only 3.5 xG, showing they have struggled the create high value chances.
To the Blades’ credit, they have frustrated far better squads with their defending. Against treble-winners, Manchester City it was only a late Rodri goal that denied them a point. Similarly, against Tottenham, Sheffield United were 1-0 up until the 95th minute. Spurs then produced the latest ever comeback to win a game in Premier League history.
The circumstances of these late goals, along with a 89th minute Chris Wood winner against the aforementioned Nottingham Forest, highlight where Sheffield United are losing their points. It’s all well and good limiting the chances opposition have, but if they leave Premier League quality players open in the penalty area, they will punish you.
Burnley have been victims of the fixture schedule. They have played Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham in their first three games of the season. In these games they were often guilty of showing naivety when defending. Against Aston Villa and Spurs, Burnley’s high line was exposed, with Heung-min Son netting a breathtaking hattrick. Manchester City’s goals were largely from their players finding themselves open in the box, as Burnley defenders were slow to attack loose balls.
Fortunately, the performance against Nottingham Forest on Monday was far more promising. Zeki Amdouni scored a well worked team goal, while the defence limited Forest’s chances well. It required a Callum Hudson-Odoi wonderstrike to level the game.
The Clarets played excellent football in the Championship, storming their way to 101 points. However, playing fluid football in the country’s second division does not always translate succesfully to the Premier League.
Burnley have shown glimpses of their attacking threat, and will always have enough talent to hurt most Premier League teams, but Vincent Kompany must work to find a balance to ensure their defence is not overran so easily.
Rob Edwards’ men are currently the only side in the league still pointless. There is a widespread belief that the Hatters are simply happy to have made it to the Premier League, and a number of fans do seem to view this season as a free hit. Unsurprisingly, the coaching staff do not share this perspective, and are determined to give a good account of themselves.
Against Brighton, Chelsea and West Ham they were limited in their attacking but their five-at-the-back formation and pragmatic defending worked to an extent. Despite being bottom of the table, nine other clubs have conceeded higher xGA this season.
Going forward, Luton have showed very little cutting edge, however against Fulham they were able to generate some chances. In their Championship promotion, Luton utilised crosses heavily, and they demonstrated similar tactics in West London last Saturday.
In the first half, Issa Kaboré was open on the right and put in a pinpoint cross for Jacob Browne, who hit the post. After the half time break, Browne turned provider. He crossed for Amari’i Bell who should have scored with half of the goal open to shoot at. Then in the final minute, Kaboré put in a cross for Tom Lockyer. If the captain had made more solid connection with the ball, Luton may have secured their first point.
For Luton, the next three games are crucial, as they face Wolves, Everton and Burnley. It is essential that they take advantage of this fixture run and put some much needed points on the board.
While all three clubs have struggled with life in the Premier League, it’s too early to write any of them off. All have young, tactically aware managers who will be desperate to prove themself as top coaches. Each side will want to find themselves outside of the bottom three on the final day of the season in May, but first, it’s vital they each get their first win on the board.