Manchester UnitedManchester UnitedSheffield United

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Sheffield United

Old Trafford, Manchester

9th January, 2016

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It is a story of two teams struggling to get close to the top of their respective leagues, as Sheffield United pay a visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday.

Sheffield United have built a reputation for being giant-killers, and will be looking to cause an upset in Manchester United’s own backyard on Saturday.

Tean News & Tactical Brief

Manchester United

Manager Louis van Gaal is expected to wring in the changes for this game as he tries to win back the support and loyalty of the Old Trafford fans. The 2-1 win against Swansea City would have done Van Gaal a great favour in this regard, and the Dutchman would be looking to build on this with a victory over minnows Sheffield United.

In a host of changes to the Manchester United lineup, we can expect to see Sergio Romero take David De Gea’s place in goal against the Blades. It is set to be the usual 4-2-3-1 formation for Manchester United yet again, but Phil Jones is expected not to start for the Red Devils after he limped off with an ankle problem against Swansea.

Daley Blind and Paddy McNair are set to take up their positions in the heart of the defence, with Matteo Darmian and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson playing as fullbacks. However, Van Gaal is more likely to go with two experienced heads in the middle of the park, with Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin playing as the two midfield pivots.

Jesse Lingard is fit again, and could get a start as one of the three attackers behind 22-year-old striker Will Keane. Januzaj would be accompanied by Andreas Pereira and Ander Herrera to form the three behind Keane, as Manchester United look to build some momentum in the second half of this campaign.

Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Romero; Borthwick-Jackson, Blind, McNair, Darmian; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Lingard, Herrera, Pereira; Keane.

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Sheffield United

Nigel Adkins would be licking his lips at the prospect of knocking Manchester United over, and the Blades would perhaps have no better opportunity to do this than now, when the Red Devils seem to be at their weakest. Also the fact that Van Gaal will be playing a few of his younger and lesser known players is something that Adkins’ side could take advantage of.

The Sheffield United manager is set to play the good old 4-4-2 formation, and have his front two try and bully Blind and McNair in front of the Manchester United penalty area. Billy Sharp has been on fire this season, scoring 11 goals in the league thus far, and is expected to partner up with Che Adams.

The latter is a 19-year-old prodigy at Sheffield, and interestingly Manchester United are said to be interested in him, reportedly lining up a £3 million bid for him. It would make for a great story if  Adams were to put in a shining performance against Manchester United, and the Red Devils decide to bring him to Old Trafford.

Chris Basham and Dean Hammond are set to take charge of the midfield, with Martyn Woolford and Paul Coutts playing on the flanks. George Long is set to take his usual position under the bar, with the defensive pairing of Neill Collins and David Edgar playing in front of him, while James McEveley and John Brayford play in the fullback positions.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Long; McEveley, Collins, Edgar, Brayford; Woolford, Hammond, Basham, Coutts; Sharp, Adams.

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Key Facts

  • Sheffield United have won four of their last five matches.
  • Manchester United ended an eight-match winless streak with a victory over Swansea in their last game.
  • Manchester United and Sheffield United have played each other four times in the FA Cup in the last 26 years, and the Red Devils lead the count 3-1 in this head-to-head encounter.
  • Manchester United have been rather stingy at the back, conceding just 17 goals in 20 games in the league.

Player to watch out for

Michael Carrick

Manchester United vs Norwich City

The England international will be one of the few experienced players in an otherwise young lineup named by Van Gaal. Playing in the middle of the park, Carrick has a crucial role this time round, as he needs to act as the wise head in the centre. His distribution play and through balls need to be top notch, since Sheffield United are likely to put as many bodies behind the ball as they can while defending.

Prediction

Manchester United 1-1 Sheffield United

The Blades have had a reputation of doing well against the bigger sides in the cup competition, and with Manchester United in extremely poor form this time round, they might just have the perfect opportunity to defeat them. Also Che Adams would have a great chance to show his prospective employers how good he is, and justify the reported £3 million price tag on his head.

Blast from the past