Sheffield United ensured their first home match since returning to the top flight went in style with a deserved 1-0 win over a lacklustre Crystal Palace side on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides were struggling to test the opposition goalkeeper for the majority of the opening 45 minutes, but it was the Blades who looked most like scoring with Oliver Norwood pulling the strings in midfield.
It took until the 42nd minute for the home side to fashion an effort on target though, as John Lundstram drilled in a cross in from the right that David McGoldrick only had to poke in, but instead the striker's effort hit his shin and Vicente Guaita reacted to make the save.
While the first half failed to inspire, the second half took just less than two minutes to spark into life with John Lundstram reacting quickest as Guaita parried Luke Freeman's effort to send Bramall Lane into raptures.
It was expected that the goal would spark Palace into life, but instead the home side stayed in control, frustrating the Eagles at every opportunity and looking the more likely to grab the crucial second goal.
Seven minutes of stoppage time were shown up for a number of incidents during the second half, but even with the visitors flooding Dean Henderson's penalty box at every given opportunity, the Blades held on for a fully deserved three points.
Key Talking Point
Much has been made of Sheffield's style of play, opting to use their right and left-sided centre backs almost as full-backs, who in turn support the wing-backs. Different? Yes. Effective? Time will tell.
The Blades edged the first half despite failing to carve open the Palace backline, but their unwavering commitment to a style of play paid dividends less than two minutes into the second half as Jack O'Connell's overlapping of Enda Stevens resulted in the opening goal. What was the most impressive facet of the Blades' game was how comfortable they looked throughout the 90 minutes.
Granted, Palace were worse than average on the day, but it didn't stop the home side looking assured in possession. The confidence they showed both on the ball and in their system is credit to the work of Chris Wilder and, should they secure their top-flight status this season, more performances as the one today will be keen to achieving that.
Starting XI: Henderson (6); Basham (7), Egan (7), O'Connell (7); Baldock (7*), Lundstram (7), Norwood (7), Fleck (5), Stevens (7); McGoldrick (6), Robinson (6)
Substitutes: Freeman (7), McBurnie (6), Jagielka (N/A)
Chris Wilder's 3-5-2 system means his wing-backs are encouraged to almost operate as wingers throughout the course of the 90 minutes. This allows George Baldock and Enda Stevens to constantly overlap and whip in dangerous crosses, although it was the former who caused Palace the most issues on Sunday afternoon.
He looked the most dangerous outlet for the Blades in the match as the home side pressed and probed against their south London opponents.
George baldock the boy— liam (@LiamMKD) August 18, 2019
Key Talking Point
With an almost identical squad from last season, barring a couple of additions who have yet to make their mark on the side, it will be case of trying to rejuvenate the same set of players for the 2019/20 campaign.
It hasn't worked thus far, with the Eagles lucky to walk away from Selhurst Park last week with a point and the side looking exceedingly flat for the first half of Sunday's encounter. Wilfried Zaha looked the most lively, but even he struggled to create anything of note in a less than inspired opening 45 minutes.
A rousing half-time dressing down from Hodgson clearly didn't materialise, and their inability to test a newly-promoted Sheffield side will give Eagles fans plenty to worry about ahead of what looks set to be another tough season in the Premier League.
Starting XI: Guaita (6); Ward (5), Kelly (6*), Dann (5), Van Aanholt (5); Townsend (5), McArthur (5), Milivojevic (5), Meyer (4); Zaha (5), Benteke (4)
Substitutes: Schlupp (5), McCarthy (5), Wickham (5)
Nobody shone for Palace on a day where their lack summer activity made for painful viewing. Rarely threatening going forward and being unable to string more than five passes together, it leaves Martin Kelly to get the nod for doing an OK job in central defence, despite naturally being a right-back.
It's back at Bramall Lane next weekend for Sheffield United, who host Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.
Palace don't have similar pleasantries as they travel to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon for the daunting task of facing Manchester United.