Manchester United will be hoping to continue their winning run when they take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
Gameweek 13 of the 2019-20 Premier League season continues on Sunday, with only one game on show on the day. High flying Sheffield United will be aiming to continue their fantastic start to the season when they play hosts to Manchester United at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield United have been the big success story in the first three months of the latest Premier League season. Beaten just thrice in 12 games so far, the Blades have impressed with their tenacity at the back and boast the second best defensive record in the division. With 17 points already in their kitty, Chris Wilder’s men look primed to retain their status as a Premier League outfit.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have blown hot and cold till date in the current campaign. Seventh on the table heading into this weekend’s set of fixtures, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have won four, drawn four and lost as many matches thus far. But, a 3-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion last time out offers them hope heading into their latest fixture.
Manchester United were victorious the last time they clashed with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the Premier League back in 2006, with Wayne Rooney scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder is sweating over the fitness of key defender John Egan ahead of the visit of Manchester United. The 27-year-old sustained a calf injury while representing Republic of Ireland during the international break.
Wilder has suggested that Egan is in with a chance to start against Manchester United, with Phil Jagielka waiting in the wings in case Egan is unable to prove his fitness. One player, though, is certain to miss out for Sheffield United, with first-choice goalkeeper Dean Henderson ineligible to face parent club Manchester United.
In Henderson’s stead, backup custodian Simon Moore will deputise between the sticks for the hosts. The rest of the team ought to remain unchanged, with Wilder a keen believer of the adage, “Why fix what is not broken?”
Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell are certain starters in the back-three, with Enda Stevens and George Baldock being the two wing-backs. Stevens and Baldock will pose a major threat from the flanks with their looping deliveries.
John Lundstram will have the responsibility of providing the creative outlet through the channels while linking up with the wing-backs. Oliver Norwood will look to shield the backline, with John Fleck tasked with being the workhorse in the middle of the park, adding to the numbers where required both on and off the ball.
Lys Mousset and David McGoldrick ought to form the strike partnership, charged with providing the finishing touches to the raft of crosses headed their way; Billy Sharp and Oliver McBurnie being the backup strikers for Sheffield United.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Moore; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Mousset, McGoldrick
Unlike his counterpart, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a spate of injuries hampering his preparations for the trip to take on Sheffield United. On Sunday, the Manchester United manager is set to be without as many as six first-team players.
The big blow comes in the form of Scott McTominay’s absence, with the midfielder struggling with an ankle injury that could rule him out for the next couple of weeks at the very least. With Paul Pogba also sidelined with his own ankle complaint, midfield poses a huge concern for Manchester United.
Other than Pogba and McTominay, Solskjaer will also be without Marcos Rojo (calf), Eric Bailly (knee), Diogo Dalot (groin) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). The likes of Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic have resumed training this week, although the trio will need to time to regain match fitness.
The big decision for Solskjaer will be his choice of midfielders, with Fred the only definite starter. The Manchester United manager could field Andreas Pereira in a more withdrawn role and hand Jesse Lingard a rare start. But, Pereira should continue reprising the no. 10 role, with James Garner set to get a chance to impress pairing up with Fred in the middle of the park.
At the back, Ashley Young should return as Manchester United’s left-back, despite Brandon Williams’s impressive showings lately. Young will be joined by Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the back four, with David de Gea taking his place in the Manchester United goal.
The three forwards pick themselves, with Marcus Rashford and Daniel James being the two wide men, while Anthony Martial will be the central striker. The trio, though, will form a fluid partnership, interchanging positions and looking to initiate express moves to catch the disciplined Sheffield United defence off guard.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Garner, Fred; James, Pereira, Rashford; Martial
1. Manchester United to win @ 2.10
1. Manchester United to win to NIL @ 3.50
- After beating Manchester United 2-1 on the first ever day in Premier League history in August 1992, Sheffield United have lost each of their last five games against the Red Devils in the top flight.
- Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, Manchester United have lost six of their 19 away Premier League games against promoted sides (W11 D2) – just one fewer than they did in 62 such games with the Scotsman in charge (W36 D19 L7).
- Sheffield United are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games (W2 D3), winning both home matches in that run. The Blades are aiming to win three consecutive top-flight home games for the first time since August 1993.
- Manchester United have won just one of their last 10 Premier League away games (D3 L6), and have conceded at least once in each of their last 11 outings on the road. The Red Devils haven’t failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 consecutive top-flight away games since a run of 15 in the 1985-86 campaign.
- Marcus Rashford has scored five goals in his last five games in all competitions for Manchester United, and is looking to score in three consecutive games for the Red Devils for the first time since September 2017.
Player to Watch
Midfield is the latest casualty in the injury crisis that has plagued Manchester United since the start of the season. With Scott McTominay sidelined with an ankle injury, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now bereft of both the starters in the middle of the park from the opening week. However, the ominous situation has created an opening for James Garner.
Touted to be the next big thing to have emerged out of the Manchester United academy, Garner has had to bide his time due to the abundance of midfielders at Solskjaer’s disposal. But, against a solid Sheffield United side, he will get a chance to impress. Should he manage to trouble the Blades, the young midfielder might just have staked claim for a bigger role for the remainder of the season.
Sheffield United 1-1 Manchester United
Rarely troubled this season, Sheffield United look primed to add another feather to their cap against Manchester United. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James have been in menacing touch lately. But, a barren midfield is likely to be the undoing for the visitors.
The pace of their counters should always keep Manchester United in contention for a win. But, Sheffield United ought to enhance their status as one of the most solid teams in the Premier League. With the game having all the makings of a draw, The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 stalemate to be played out at Bramall Lane.