Fans' Opinion

Player Ratings v Sheffield United

Author: . Published: at 10:16am

Written by : Jonathan Lee

As ever, marking players in games is something of a subjective affair (the papers often leave me scratching my head), but below is this writer’s take on Saturday’s offering which, given two points now from the last 12 (against non Big 6 opposition), must be pushing us nearer the ‘R’ word being dusted off and brought out again …

Roberto – 6.5; made a fine early stop following a corner, followed by enough of a leap (and possible fingertip touch) to put Robinson off a certain header, and another good block second half (with the back-up aid of Cress’s crown jewels), also pivotal in his considered boot upfield for the goal. As for the goal conceded, he may have been a little flat footed in getting across his area but that said the shot was planted right in the very corner, literally the only spot it could have gone in. Since Fabianski’s lay off, the Spanish giant (that opening goal at Everton apart), has looked pretty solid in fairness.

Zabaleta – 6; never really offered too much going forward despite being fed the ball numerous times by his centre halves, solid in the main when defending although question marks have to be asked about his positioning for the equaliser coming as it did from his right back area where he and Noble both managed to not put in a challenge on the loose second ball.

Balbuena – 5.5; fortunate to be called in for Ogbonna, never really inspired the rest of the defence but that is probably expected having warmed up the bench in recent weeks.

Diop – 6; lost his man at an early corner that could have led to a Blades opener, but generally did his job well against a relatively blunt opposition attack (only two serious efforts on goal second half). For a young man he does read the game well.

Creswell – 5.5; like Zaba never really got forward to hurt the opposition and missed a gilt edged chance in the second half to secure a win when hesitating with a right foot shot (why didn’t he transfer it onto his left?)

Noble – 5.5; one superb cross field ball apart to Anderson, but not one of his more memorable games. Poor effort to clear the loose ball in the build up to the away goal (he jumped with no real effort to actually head the ball as if no danger really beckoned).

Rice – 6.5; made a couple of terrific last ditch clearances and chase backs second half and generally distributed simply and calmly but generally too many sideways passes rather than forward ones.

Snodgrass – 7; took his goal well, and was unfortunate not to grab a winner in the second half. What he lacked in quality at times was more than made up for in effort, and as many have observed was the wrong substitution to make.

Yarmolenko – 5.5; this may seem harsh as he did lay on the goal (quite wonderfully in fairness) and picked out Cress with a lovely little dinked pass second half that should have been converted – but a game is played over 90 minutes, not two. Towards the very end when presented with a chance you have to work the keeper, get it on target, so if they choke you score, and although hit well it was always curling wide. Other than those three moments his play was well short of recent displays. He looked slow and Sheff Utd knew to play him outside onto his right foot – a couple of times he tried to check in on his left and was simply nullified by a disciplined defence. For the most part never looked at the races.

Anderson – 6; we are going to have to get used to our talented Brazilian blowing a little hot and cold in matches, and from match to match. On Saturday he looked one of the few players who looked like he could make something happen, a long range effort wide first half, but played Yarmo up short second half with the game finely balanced when a three on two break was created (by him), then shot straight at Henderson when one on one from a tight angle. If he had the chance again he may have instead chosen to play Haller in for an easy tap in.

Haller – 6; another game in which he never really got the service he needs, and if I’m right, another game in which I don’t think he mustered a single effort on goal – but his mere presence in the build up to the goal took the attention away from Snodgrass bursting through the middle. We need to find a way to get the best out of him, and the fault currently lies at the players playing in and around him.

Subs:

Lanzini – 5; on as a sub for Anderson in the 67th minute, and a couple of trademark little skips past defenders aside, had little to no impact on the game. Recent social media discussions about our most disappointing player to date this season threw up a few names, but Lanzini has to be in that pool as well now. He simply isn’t anywhere near the level he was pre injury.

Fornals – 5; on in the 74th minute for Noble, he is clearly still getting up to speed with the physicality of this league but did provide a decent cross that Snodgrass wrapped against the post; fingers crossed he will improve with game time.

Ajeti – 4; on in the 80th minute for Snodgrass but not even sure he touched the ball in the short time he was on. With the formation we currently use he is never going to be more than a bit part player towards the end of games when things are going badly (common, sadly, at the moment)

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