Few teams love a potential banana skin more than Southampton and with The Blades riding into town holding a mere point from eleven games to their name, the mischievous footballing gods seemed primed to create an upset.
However, the reality was very different as Southampton ruthlessly dispatched a desperately poor Sheffield United side by a comfortable margin of 3-0. Beleaguered United manager Chris Wilder praised his opponents post match, indicating that they were the best side his team had faced to date this campaign.
In truth, Saints were irrepressible and better sides would have struggled to contain the relentless, ferocious energy that was unleashed by Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men. Even for neutral onlookers, there is something infectious about the way Southampton are currently approaching matches.
After the bitter disappointment of the Manchester United result in the back end of November, Saints have bounced back in a manner Alan Partridge would be proud of. There is a steely resolve now present, a strength of character that has been oft found wanting in recent campaigns. Crucially, this new found ruthlessness is driving Southampton to seal results that have previously escaped them.
If Saints are to earn an unlikely European spot this season, it is essential that they dispatch sides below them in the merciless manner which befell their visitors from South Yorkshire. Although Saints were not at their best, second gear was scarcely required to overcome a industrious but limited Sheffield United side.
Goals from former Blade striker Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong and substitute Nathan Redmond were sufficient to win a match, in which they were rarely tested, save for a brief spell at the start of the second half. The manner of the victory was professional, itself a quality Hasenhuttl has tried to install in his side. There were stages where Alex McCarthy could have nipped off for a mug of Yorkshire Gold and a rich tea biscuit, such was the disparity between the two sides’ performances.
Here are the key players for Southampton from the match: