Brighton loss at relegated Blades compounded by tricky upcoming fixtures |

Sheffield United 1-0 Brighton and Hove Albion

  • Goals: David McGoldrick (£5.2m)
  • Assists: None
  • Bonus: McGoldrick x3, Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m) x2, John Egan (£4.7m) x1

Sheffield United narrowly won a match which, in Fantasy terms, was almost the equivalent of two bald men fighting over a comb.

Brighton defender Lewis Dunk (£4.9m and 9.8%) was the closest either side had to a player with double-digit Fantasy Premier League (FPL) ownership, with the Albion stopper and Joel Veltman (£4.4m) the only two players on show at Bramall Lane who featured in more than 10% of the top 10,000 FPL squads.

David McGoldrick‘s (£5.2m) winning goal, meanwhile, benefitted just over 107,000 (or 1.3% of) managers.

The decisive strike had plenty of good fortune about it as a ricochet landed at the forward’s feet and he slotted home from close range. The Blades only had two other attempts on target, both of which were tame efforts that barely tested visiting keeper Robert Sanchez (£4.6m).

All of that undermined interim manager Paul Heckingbottom’s post-match talk of ‘getting what you deserve in football’, although his follow-up comment suggests the players will still at least carry a competitive edge for the rest of the season:

We know we are a Championship club next season. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to enjoy these last few games. We might be planning for next season, but we’re looking to pick up points along the way.

McGoldrick agreed, claiming that he and his team-mates are ‘playing for our shirt and playing for our future’.

The Blades’ run-in is reasonable enough, involving Spurs, Everton and Newcastle away and visits from Crystal Palace and Burnley.

But Heckingbottom’s side have managed just three clean sheets and 18 goals in 33 matches, so hoping for points at either end of the pitch seems more mad than maverick.

Hauls from Brighton assets, who continue to defy their rather impressive underlying statistics, look equally unlikely.

Graham Potter’s men have a rather unpleasant schedule from here on in, with visits from Leeds, West Ham and Manchester City and trips to the less-fearsome Wolves and Arsenal.

The side have made an art of wasting chances – only five teams have managed more attempts than their 431 this season, but their 28.5% shot accuracy is the league’s worst.

That figure sank to 23.5% at Bramall Lane and the only consistent hope of Fantasy returns from their players comes from clean sheets.

The Seagulls came into Saturday’s encounter with three shut-outs in four Gameweeks, which took their total to eight in 2021 – a total beaten by just three other teams this calendar year. That suggests some real defensive stability, as does the fact that only two clubs have allowed fewer big chances all season.

But Albion continue to find new and improved ways of shooting themselves in the foot and Potter was right to play down talk of his 17th-place side being safe already:

There’s a lot of points to play for. We have to just focus on one game at a time. Every opponent is fighting for something.

Few extra Fantasy managers will be along for Brighton’s particular battles given their upcoming fixtures, so their major say in the FPL run-in may be in providing stiff opposition to some well-owned attacking assets: it’s been 17 matches since the Seagulls last conceded more than two goals in a single game.

Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; K Bryan, Egan, Baldock; Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Osborn (Lundstram 81), Bogle; McGoldrick, Brewster (Burke 65). 

Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-5-2): R Sánchez; Webster, Dunk, Veltman; Moder (Connolly 67), Lallana, Bissouma, Groß (Jahanbakhsh 67); Trossard (Izquierdo 82); Maupay, Welbeck.

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