Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been hopeful for Manchester United going into the international break but he might be facing more problems this afternoon after their visit to Bramall Lane.
The return to the fold of Anthony Martial has given the attack much more life in recent weeks and there was much to like in successive wins before the international break. However, those wins came against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League (3-0) and Brighton in the Premier League (3-1) and today’s trip is likely to be a much harder task.
Sheffield United were strongly fancied to return to the Championship straight away but Chris Wilder’s men have completely defied pre-season expectations and have been a formidable challenge for the best in the Premier League this season. The blades have beaten Arsenal at home (1-0) and drawn away to Chelsea (2-2) and Tottenham (1-1) as well as winning at Everton, and they are absolutely worthy of their position in the top half of the table.
Their record is actually more impressive when one sees that of their three defeats, one was an extremely unlucky defeat to Southampton, and the other two were one goal defeats to Leicester and Liverpool, with the last of those defeats almost solely down to a freak Dean Henderson error in goal.
That unfortunate mistake was one of just nine goals that United have conceded in 12 matches and whilst a change could have to be made at the back – John Egan was replaced at half-time in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Denmark on Monday and could miss today with a calf concern – United’s defensive gameplan has proven to be one of their key weapons.
Sheffield United v Man Utd
16:30 Sky Sports Premier League HD / Sky Sports Main Event HD / Sky Sports Ultra HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD*
(Maximum 10 matches)
JAN 2016 FA CUP Manchester United 1-0 Sheffield United
APR 2007 PREMIERSHIP Manchester United 2-0 Sheffield United
NOV 2006 PREMIERSHIP Sheffield United 1-2 Manchester United
United, who are 4/1 to finish in the Top 4 with Star Sports, will be hopeful that the presence of Anthony Martial (as mentioned above) gives more pace and energy into the attack alongside Dan James, who has been one of the bright spots of the season so far.
But their midfield has proven to be an issue and the injury to Scott McTominay leaves Solskjaer with Fred and Tahith Chong as his only fit central midfielders. McTominay’s performances for United in midfield had been crucial and his absence would well leave United without a midfield presence to push on, especially with Paul Pogba still absent.
Sheffield United will fancy taking United on with five in midfield, allowing their fullbacks to get heavily involved in the game, and United’s away form is still a major question. United have won just one of their last 10 Premier League away games, drawing three and losing six, and have conceded at least once in each of their last 11 on the road, including defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Newcastle. Sheffield United could be value here.
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