Preview: Sheffield United -v- Manchester United – Premier League – United ready to destroy the Blades?

Sheffield United -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Bramall Lane, Sheffield

Thursday 17 December 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

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.

Manchester United: DLWLWW

Manchester City 0-0 D, RB Leipzig 3-2 L, West Ham United 3-1 W, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 L, Southampton 3-2 W, Istanbul Basaksehir 4-1 W

Sheffield United: WWDWWL

Olympique de Marseille 3-0 W, Fulham 2-0 W, FC Porto 0-0 D, Burnley 5-0 W, Olympiacos FC 1-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 L

Top Scorers: Sheffield United have scored six goals in all competitions this season. Bruno Fernandes has 11 goals himself in all competitions. The Blades are in dire form in front of goal.

Manchester United Goals: 11 – Bruno Fernandes, 10 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, 2 – Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Daniel James, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United’s exit from the Champions League last week, which saw them fall back into the Europa League, will have hurt the players, who were top of their group in the Champions League going into the final match against RB Leipzig, needing just a draw; losing 3-2 with a late comeback from United, which was not enough. After some good form in the Premier League, this has left the club falling short. A 0-0 draw against Manchester City at Old Trafford at the weekend will have been a good result for some, but United should be taking advantage of their position against teams like the Blades, who are struggling this season.

Sheffield United Goals: 3 – David McGoldrick, 1 – Sander Berge, Oliver McBurnie, Billy Sharp

The Blades have started poorly in the Premier League this season and after 12 matches, still only have one point on the board and are still seeking their first victory of the season. It is early days to suggest anything, but the Blades could match Derby County’s record in the Premier League, or even beat it if things do not improve this season. The Championship could beckon once again for the club who looked to achieve a place in European competition last season. It seems to be a dramatic fall from grace with the player’s having a lot of soul searching to do in order to get back on track in the top flight of English football.

Team News: Three players could be out of action for the Blades with two possible absences for United but I think Edinson Cavani will be fit to face the Blades on Thursday evening.

Phil Jones (knee) has been ruled out until 2021, not that he was named in the Premier League squad this season anyway, which would stop him form playing if he was indeed fit. Edinson Cavani has returned to training but has a 75% chance of being fit to ply against the Blades on Thursday evening. Solskjaer suggested that he would not make it for the Manchester City match, which was the case but there would seem to be a large chance that he could feature against the Blades, with United’s attacking line a little short against City, not that creativity in the match led to many great chances in front of goal.

Kean Bryan (calf strain) and Jack O’Connell (knee) have both been ruled out of the clash with United at Bramall Lane on Thursday evening. Oliver McBurnie (shoulder) has a 25% chance of being available for the match, which suggests it is unlikely that he would play – but that said, there are still two more days until the match, so he might recover in time. This will be an important match for the bottom of the table club, which could see them fall further behind with another defeat this season. Chris Wilder will be hoping that his Blades side rediscover their form against United keeping an eye on the result at home last season.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial to lead the line supported by Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood but with changes expected throughout the match to keep the players fresh for a busy month?

Anthony Martial could lead the line against the Blades on Thursday evening with United looking to get another three points in the bag. This may or may not be ideal but the Frenchman will be seeking to score some goal this season to catch up with Bruno Fernandes, who has eleven goals and Marcus Rashford, who has ten. Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Fernandes should play in the three behind the striker. In midfield, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay could do a job with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in a four-man defence. Dean Henderson could face his former club, starting in place if David De Gea.

Match Prediction: Eight matches played between United and the Blades with United winning six, losing once and drawing once.

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.

Sheffield United 0-4 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.