Manchester United return to Premier League action on Wednesday evening as they host Sheffield United at Old Trafford. It will be the second time the two clubs have met this season, meeting at Bramall Lane on the 17 December 2020 winning 3-2. David McGoldrick scored a brace for the Blades, opening the scoring in the fifth minute with Marcus Rashford scoring an equaliser 21 minutes later. Anthony Martial then put United in the lead in the 33rd minute with Rashford completing his brace in the 51st minute, giving United a 3-1 lead. McGoldrick then pounced to complete his brace in the 87th minute of the match.
United are unbeaten in their last ten matches against the Blades, winning nine and drawing once. The last defeat came at Bramall Lane in the fifth round of the FA Cup back on the 14 February 1993, losing 2-1 with Ryan Giggs scoring United’s only goal. In the matches played against the Blades, in the history of both clubs, in all competitions, out of 96 matches being played, United have won 46, drawing 16 and losing 34 times. United will be the favourites but with teams in danger of relegation, at some point during the remainder of the season, they will need to fight for safety. This will be another cup final for the Blades.
How United have faired against Sheffield United in the Premier League.
United and the Blades have met nine times in the history of the Premier League. United have won seven times, drawing once and losing once. United have scored a total of 22 goals, conceding nine with neither team winning a penalty when facing each other. United have kept four clean sheets with the Blades keeping none against United. United have received 14 yellow cards with the Blades receiving 19 yellow cards with neither side seeing a player sent off in these matches. United are in great form both against the Blades and at this current time which should see United continue to pile the pressure on the teams below them.
In this clash at Old Trafford last season which was played on the 24 June 2020, it was a 3-0 victory for United. Anthony Martial scored a hat-trick, scoring in the seventh, 44th and 74th minutes in the match with Marcus Rashford assisting twice (seventh and 74th minute goals) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka assisting the other (44th minute). Earlier this season, United faced the Blades at Bramall Lane, winning 3-2, which is a better result than the visit last season – a 3-3 draw. David McGoldrick scored a brace for the Blades with Rashford also scoring a brace and Martial getting the other goal for United. It was a thrilling encounter for United.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Sheffield United in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
Dean Henderson kept his place in the FA Cup against Liverpool at the weekend, largely playing in the cup competitions this season, but also playing against his former loan club earlier in the season. I think he will keep his place for the second match in a row, giving David De Gea more time to rest ahead of an important match against Arsenal, in which United will be seeking revenge after their defeat at Old Trafford back in November. Henderson has a lot to learn and will get there when he plays. He has played ten times for United so far this season and will have more involvement between now and the end of the season.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles
United’s defence has been doing well recently, keeping three clean sheets to far this month. They conceded twice against Liverpool at the weekend, which was frustrating but the result was a good one for the Red Devils. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will keep his place at right-back with Alex Telles giving Luke Shaw a rest at left-back as he will be needed against Arsenal on Saturday. Eric Bailly missed the Liverpool match but should be fit for this one, giving Victor Lindelof a break but should he not be available, Axel Tuanzebe will be available. Club captain Harry Maguire will keep his place in the starting XI against the Blades.
Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba
United’s midfield has been doing well this season, despite having a number of players vying for few positions in the starting XI as Solskjaer mostly opts for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Bruno Fernandes occupying the number ten role, therefore only two other positions available in the XI. Paul Pogba is in some kind of form at this stage of the season, which is good to see and despite having talent, Donny van de Beek would not be a good partner for him based on a lack of defensive ability. Because of this, it leaves Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic to partner the Frenchman. At the moment, Fred seems to be in good form and should start.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial
This is the area where the majority of the goals have come from this season. Bruno Fernandes has scored 16 times, assisting a further nine. Mason Greenwood has bagged himself four goals with a further four assists and Anthony Martial has scored five goals and seven assists. Marcus Rashford, who came off injured against Liverpool has 15 goals to his name this season with nine more assists. With Fernandes, Greenwood and Rashford, that accounts for a total of 35 goals and 22 assists with Martial’s tally taking it to 40 goals and 27 assists, which is a great haul of goals and assists. If Rashford is fit, he should start on the left.
Forward: Edinson Cavani
At this moment in time, Edinson Cavani is a better striker than Anthony Martial. His positioning is better, his footballing brain is better and he manages to find space which either puts him in the zone to find a goal or he directs opposition defenders to him, freeing up space elsewhere, which can result in a goal. In his time at United, I don’t remember Martial being able to do this, despite many suggesting that he was a great striker. Granted, he’s scored many goals but last season looks like a fluke in comparison to this one. Cavani knows what he can do and still have the hunger and determination to prove many people wrong.
Substitutes: David De Gea; Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay; Marcus Rashford
With nine substitutes on the bench with the ability to use just three of them, Solskjaer will be able to add an array of talent should his side need more to take on the Blades. After being rested against Liverpool on Sunday, David De Gea could be on the bench again, resting ahead of the visit to the Emirates ons Saturday where United will face Arsenal. In defence, the duo of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw could be available, should they be needed. In midfield, Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay might be required. In attack, Marcus Rashford could come of the bench, if fit to play a part.
Written by John Walker