Manchester United will be pitted against Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. It has been more than 26 years since United were beaten by the Blades and just under four years since the last match between the two teams. This may be considered a tough game for United, being that the Blades have been doing well so far this season, currently sitting in eighth place.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United currently find themselves in tenth position in the league with a lot of work to do in order to better that at this important end of the season which will see United playing 12 matches between now and the clash with Arsenal on New Years Day. United will be needing all of their injured players fit for the matches they have to play or there will not be enough players for match rotation.
On Thursday, United play in Kazakhstan, Solskjaer will not want the majority of his first team players travelling 7,000 miles on the round trip as they face Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League on the following Sunday, meaning in eight straight days, three matches will have been played, a similar story for each week until the end of the Christmas period. United could use this period to get a grasp on bettering their position this season, which needs to be done.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea should be back in action for United as they travel to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United. The Spanish goalkeeper has kept two clean sheets this season, two in the Premier League, one in the UEFA Europa League. De Gea has had some good performances for United this season and that will partly be down to the fact the defence has been improved upon after the club conceded 54 goals in the league alone last season. De Gea might be tested by the Blades as they look to keep their high position in the top flight.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
The defence has improved this season following the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. The former has been a breath of fresh air with his tackling and commanding runs forward. The latter has added some confidence at the back, something which was needed at the club after a poor last season in which the club conceded so many goals. Against the Blades, I would expect both Wan-Bissaka and Maguire to keep their places with Victor Lindelof returning and Brandon Williams keeping his place in the team. I’m not a fan of Ashley Young at left-back.
Midfield: James Garner, Fred
With the absence of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba, Solskjaer will have a very thin midfield to choose from. Dylan Levitt trained with the first team on Saturday morning but as he played on Friday evening for the U23s, it might be Thursday before he gets a chance to show his abilities in the first team. I expect Fred to keep his place in the team following a good run of form. To partner him, the Norwegian manager has few options; James Garner or putting Andreas Pereira back in midfield. In which case, Garner would get the nod from me.
Attacking Midfield: Daniel James, Angel Gomes, Marcus Rashford
The attacking midfield, of the three behind the striker is one of the best things about the club at this moment in time. Marcus Rashford, playing on the left, seems to be full of confidence lately, scoring nine goals in all competitions this season. Daniel James started well this season, scoring three goals early in the season but has not seen his name on the scoresheet since. The Welsh winger has pace and ability in his locker and is a surety in the squad. I would like to see Angel Gomes given a chance again, now that he has recovered from injury. He could do so much better than both Pereira and Jesse Lingard.
Striker: Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has been in good form this season, despite missing eight matches due to injury from late August until late October. The Frenchman has scored five goals, assisting three more this season and he will be on the hunt to raise that figure. He needs to put in as good a performance as he did against Brighton And Hove Albion before the international break earlier this month, which would be good for both the player and the club. Hearing “£50 million down the drain, Tony Martial scores again” sung in the stands is great to hear.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira; Mason Greenwood
The bench this weekend could see some faces return from injury with Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe back in training and in need of match fitness before that start playing again. The defence could really do with Tuanzebe back in action as Marcos Rojo will be on the sidelines for a few weeks, however, Eric Bailly is back in training and could be back in action soon. To add midfield and attacking reinforcement, Mason Greenwood, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard could be utilised if needed. Sergio Romero could also be on the bench if he needs to be called upon.