Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder insists he will not be looking at the table, despite seeing his side move up to fifth place after a 2-0 win against Aston Villa.
Remaining in the Premier League is the objective for both clubs, after coming up from the Championship last season, and after a couple of second-half goals by John Fleck, the Blades are well on their way to achieving that aim.
A dire first half was followed by a very watchable second period in which the Scot’s double saw Wilder’s team move within four points of Chelsea, who currently occupy the final Champions League spot.
For Villa, whose captain Jack Grealish crashed a penalty against the crossbar when attempting to halve his side’s deficit, survival is proving to be more of a battle.
Wilder said: “I won’t look at the table. I’ve looked at the points we have after 17 games and that’s quite healthy, we’ve just got to keep adding to it.
“It’s been a big week for us with six points, winning at Norwich and then beating Villa – who are an historic football club, a big club.
“We dominated some good players in a good side in the second half, but I’m surprised how some people are perceiving the first half because I thought that was good as well.
“What you’ve got to understand is that we aren’t going to dominate teams in this division for 90 minutes.
“We dominated the first half without really opening them up. We had to be patient and concentrate but I thought it was coming towards the end of the first half and we took it up a level and got the goal early in the second half.
“I think it’s the right result. The group have made an exception start.”
On Fleck’s man-of-the-match performance, the Blades boss said: “His energy levels and his play in the second half was terrific.
“It was a tough afternoon for him in that midfield against the likes of John McGinn, who he knows from his Scotland days and who he played in there again last season.
“But he was still running past people with 93 minutes on the clock. I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t get his hat-trick because that would have put the icing on the performance.”
After a third Premier League defeat in a row, Villa boss Dean Smith said: “I’m annoyed because we are better than we showed, they’ve taken their chances and we haven’t taken ours.
“But football changes very quickly and we have a quarter-final on Tuesday against Liverpool. We’ve lost three on the spin but two of them were against Chelsea and Leicester – who are seven points in front of Manchester City now – so you have to put it in perspective.
“I thought defensively we were okay in the first half but we never managed the ball well enough, which is something we should be doing with the players we’ve got.
“We frustrated them in the first half and we wanted to make sure we weren’t as open as we were against Leicester.
“I never felt we worked hard enough and I felt they deserved to win the game because they were a little bit more enterprising in the opposition half than we were.”
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