Manchester United will enter a busy period of the Premier League season on Thursday evening as they travel to Bramall Lane to face Premier League strugglers Sheffield United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will play every three days until New Year’s Day when the face Aston Villa at Old Trafford. It is normally the busy end of the season. Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to find some form after a 0-0 draw against Manchester City at Old Trafford at the weekend with the Blades still searching for their first Premier League win of the season, which might be hard to get against United, who want to propel themselves up the Premier League table.
Chris Wilder’s side are in poor form, having only scored six goals in all competitions so far this season, five of those in the Premier League and one in the Carabao Cup. It is hoped that David De Gea will be rested ahead of the visit of Leeds United to Old Trafford on Sunday, which could see Dean Henderson in goal for United, against the team he spent the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons on loan with. The Blades seem to be missing the 23-year-old this season, which could be a massive blow if the young English goalkeeper starts on Thursday evening. Solskjaer will need to rotate his team to keep them fresh ahead of this busy Festive period.
How United have faired against Sheffield United in the Premier League.
United and the Blades have met a total of eight times in the history of the Premier League. United have won six times whereas the Blades have won once with one draw between the two clubs. United have scored a total of 19 goals, winning no penalties. The Blades have scored a total of seven goals, also winning no penalties. United have kept a total of four clean sheets with the Blades keeping just no clean sheets. In terms of discipline, United have been shown a total of 11 yellow cards and no red cards with the Blades being shown a total of 16 yellow cards and no red cards.
Last season, in the fixture at Bramall Lane, which was played on the 24 November 2019, it was a 3-3 draw between the two sides. The Blades opened the scoring through John Fleck in the 19th minute of the match, doubling the lead through Lys Mousset in the 52nd minute. United got a goal back through Brandon Williams in the 72nd minute, equalised through Mason Greenwood in the 77th minute, then scored what should have been the winner through Marcus Rashford in the 79th minute, but Oliver McBurnie scored a 90th minute equaliser. At Old Trafford, it was a 3-0 victory for United with Anthony Martial scoring a hat-trick.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Sheffield United in the Premier League at Bramall Lane on Thursday evening…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
David De Gea kept a clean sheet against Manchester City at the weekend, but with the matches starting to come thick and fast this month, with United playing every three days until New Year’s Day, rotation will need to happen to keep the players fresh. I would rater see De Gea face Leeds United at Old Trafford at the weekend, which would leave Dean Henderson in a position to head pack to familiar ground starting against his former loan club, which he spent the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons at. It could be a good game for the 23-year-old to show his worth to his manager in his bid to dethrone De Gea from the number one spot at United.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
This is a major problem area for United. They will, however, be boosted by the fact they did not concede any goals against Manchester City at the weekend, which will be seen, not by everyone, as a good result. United need to find consistency in this area and it is speculated that a central defender could be on the cards during the January transfer window, which was really needed in the summer. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw will keep their places in the fullback positions with Axel Tuanzebe partnering Harry Maguire in the central defensive position, which could be a chance for the duo to forge a partnership this season.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba
Solskjaer needs to find balance in the midfield this season as there are is many changes recently, a partnership in a 4-2-3-1 formation has not been able to be found. I think Paul Pogba will start in this match, which will be an opportunity for the Frenchman to show what he’s made of amid the speculation regarding his future, which seems to be touted for the summer transfer window. If the player is not performing well, there is a chance that there may not be much, if any, interest in the player. Scott McTominay should partner the Frenchman. What he offers the club is sheer grit and determination and plenty of passion to succeed.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
All three players have found the back of the net multiple times this season with Mason Greenwood scoring three goals, Bruno Fernandes scoring 11 and Marcus Rashford scoring 10 – that is an impressive 24 goals in all competitions so far, which could be furthered with a good performance against the Blades, who are struggling in the Premier League this season. United should get the three points on offer easy and then get on track to face Leeds United at Old Trafford for the first time in the Premier League since 2004, which was a 1-1 draw between the fierce rivals. If this trio are on form, this could be a good match for United.
Forwards: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has scored just two goals in all competitions so far this season and is behind both Fernandes (11), Rashford (10), Edinson Cavani (three) and Greenwood (three) in the goalscoring ranks. Martial missed the RB Leipzig match, which was a blow, coming off the bench against City, but unable to be the difference between the two sides drawing. Martial will need to find some form or the fact that Cavani is at the club could see him being resigned to the bench or back on the left-wing, should Rashford not play, or play in another position. Martial should be finding some form about now and failure to do that could be devastating for him.
Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani
Three substitutes will be available in domestic competitions now that European football is out of the way until February. With matches coming every three days until New Year’s Day, Solskjaer will need to keep his squad fresh for the onslaught of matches which will be tough for United. David De Gea could be on the bench should Henderson start against the Blades. In defence, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles could be options, should they be required. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James and Donny van de Beek could come on to change the game with Edinson Cavani the only forward on the bench, should be not be fit enough to start the match.
Written by John Walker