Manchester United will be aiming to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League standings when they take on Sheffield United on Wednesday.
It will be first versus last in the Premier League this gameweek as league leaders Manchester United play hosts to bottom-dwellers Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
After a poor start to the season, Manchester United have been on a roll of late. The Red Devils are on a 13-game unbeaten run in the top-flight, on the back of which have they have risen to the top spot. Having beaten Fulham 2-1 in their last league game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men followed it up with a 3-2 win against arch-rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup and will be aiming to carry forward that momentum.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, have been stuck to the bottom of the table all season long, having picked up just one win in 19 matches. The Blades lost their last league game against Tottenham but returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup and will now be pushing for their fourth win in five games across all competitions, as they look to cut down the 12-point gap to safety.
The reverse fixture played at Bramall Lane saw Manchester United come back from behind to beat Sheffield United 3-2 courtesy goals from Marcus Rashford (2) and Anthony Martial while David McGoldrick scoured a double for the Blades. Ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United fans will be relieved to learn that Marcus Rashford will be available for selection after having come off with an injury against Liverpool at the weekend. Eric Bailly, who also missed the cup tie, will also be in contention, but Brandon Williams remains sidelined.
Even though Dean Henderson started the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane, David de Gea should get the nod here in goal, coming in after being rested at the weekend. Bailly should also come in for Victor Lindelof to partner captain Harry Maguire with the duo hoping to keep David McGoldrick quiet this time out.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the undisputed starter at right-back given the lack of competition. On the opposite flank, Alex Telles should feature to give Luke Shaw some rest. With Sheffield United likely to sit deep for most parts, the full-backs will have the time and space to push forward and will need to make the most of it.
Paul Pogba has been in brilliant form of late and ought to start again, offering creative support to Bruno Fernandes. Fred, who made a substitute appearance at the weekend, should return and provide cover to the backline and look to initiate quick transitions.
Edinson Cavani has impressed of late but could be given a breather here, with Anthony Martial getting the nod as the centre-forward. Mason Greenwood and Rashford, both of whom scored against Liverpool, ought to occupy the wide areas once again.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Pogba, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester United dugout, Chris Wilder has a host of roster issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. As many as five players have been ruled out with injuries as Jack O’Connell, Jack Robinson, Sander Berge, Ben Osborn and Oliver McBurnie will all be unavailable while John Egan is suspended.
Aaron Ramsdale is the undisputed starter in goal for the visitors. He will be shielded by a three-man defence comprising of Chris Basham, Etham Ampadu and Kean Bryan, who is likely to come in for the suspended John Egan. Jayden Bogle and Enda Stevens ought to be the two wing-backs who will look be the primary source of width when the Blades look to attack.
Former Manchester United academy man Oliver Norwood will be in charge of keeping a close watch on Bruno Fernandes and limiting his creative output. He will have support from John Fleck, who will also look to push forward occasionally, while John Lundstram will be the man tasked with driving the team upfield and providing support to the strikers.
With McBurnie ruled out and Lys Mousset a doubt as well, Oliver Burke should start on Wednesday and pose a threat with his pace. The industrious David McGoldrick ought to partner him at the top. Rhian Brewster and club captain Billy Sharp are also options at Wilder’s disposal.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Ampadu, Bryan; Bogle, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick, Burke
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.66
1. Paul Pogba to score anytime @ 3.75
- Manchester United have won each of their last seven home games in the top-flight against Sheffield United – a run that dates back to 1975.
- Since a 2-1 win over Manchester United on the opening day of the Premier League in 1992, Sheffield United have picked just one point in eight subsequent top-flight meetings against the Red Devils (D1 L7).
- After a six-game winless run at Old Trafford (D3 L3), Manchester United have won four of their last five matches at home in the Premier League (D1), keeping three clean sheets in the process.
- Sheffield United have not won any of their last 15 Premier League away games (D3 L12), have not kept a clean sheet any of their last 14 league games on the road, while not scoring more than once in any of their last 20 away fixtures in the league (W2 D4 L14).
- Anthony Martial has been directly involved in five of Manchester United’s last six Premier League goals against Sheffield United. The Frenchman scored his first hat-trick for the Red Devils in the 3-0 home win over the Blades last season.
Player to Watch
With 15 goals and 10 assists from 31 games in all competitions, the 23-year-old Manchester United superstar looks set for his best-ever career tally. Rashford enjoys a brilliant record against Sheffield United, having been directly involved in six goals in three league appearances against the Blades, including scoring a brace in the reverse fixture.
Having put up a fine performance against Liverpool at the weekend, the England international will be aiming to build on that and help Manchester United consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League standings.
Manchester United 3-1 Sheffield United
After having struggled at home, Manchester United have finally been able to string together a good run of results. Plus, the morale will be sky-high following the impressive win against Liverpool at the weekend. Sheffield United, meanwhile, have shown improvements of late, but the gulf of quality between the two teams is vast while momentum is also on the hosts’ side, which is why we are predicting a 3-1 win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co.