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Crystal Palace-Sheffield United Preview
After rallying to earn a point during their first game back in the Premier League, Sheffield United take their top-flight act to the home folks.
The Blades will look for an even better performance when they host Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
It looked as if Sheffield United's first Premier League match since the 2006-07 season would end in defeat at Bournemouth last weekend. That was until golden boy Billy Sharp leveled the contest on 88 minutes to stun the Vitality Stadium faithful and ultimately share the spoils.
It was a massive result for Sheffield, who showed the perseverance not always able to be achieved from promoted sides right out of the gate. And it was a great experience in regards to what is in store the rest of the season for the Blades.
For Sharp, it was a positive ending to a match he started on the bench, perhaps a curious move since he scored 23 goals for the Blades in the Championship last season.
"I was disappointed I didn't start, but we have five good strikers at the club, so I think there will be changes at the top of the pitch," Sharp, who could be in the running for a spot in the starting XI this weekend, told United's official website. "I was just delighted to get on the pitch and pleased I could help the lads out by getting the goal."
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, was unable to record a goal in their opener, but did leave Selhurst Park with a point following a scoreless draw versus Everton. The Eagles had reason to feel relieved with a single point considering Everton held 63 percent of the possession.
Whilst it's obviously early, it would be natural for Palace supporters to fear goals will again be hard to come by after they managed a rather pedestrian 51 last season. The Eagles scored 11 of those goals over the final four games of 2018-19.
"We think there are more goals in the team than we were able to show last year," venerable manager Roy Hodgson told Palace's official website. "It's up to the players, who are out-front players and goal scorers, to show that.
"I think as (last) season wore on, we became better at scoring goals and taking our chances. And, I'm hoping that its going to continue and get even better this season."
Underachieving Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew started up front against Everton, with Wilfried Zaha and Connor Wickham coming on as subs. It will be interesting to see what combination Hodgson opts to go with this weekend.
One has to go back to Feb. 19, 2011 in the Championship for the last time Sheffield United and Crystal Palace squared off on the pitch. Their most recent meeting as Premier League sides came in March 1993.
According to the Premier League's official website, Sheffield United has never won a Premier League match that was played on a Sunday. They are 0-4-1 on the day, and the only team that has played more than one Premier League game on a Sunday and never recorded a victory.
Updated August 16, 2019