Sheffield United face Newcastle United off the back of their 0-0 draw in the Champions League on Tuesday, away at AC Milan, in a game where they lacked real quality but were resolute at the back and rode their luck at times.
After picking up their first point at home against Everton, they’ll deem this home fixture as a strong chance to pick up more points.
No love from the pundits
In pre-season, some fans and experts backed the Magpies to challenge for the title but they have not started the season as well as people expected. Nonetheless, Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson is predicting an easy game for Eddie Howe’s team on Sunday afternoon – predicting a score line of 3-0.
He explained his reasoning in his Sportskeeda column: “Sheffield [United], meanwhile, are already up against it and have already lost a handful of winnable games. I think it’ll get worse for them this weekend as Newcastle have enough pace and quality to hurt them.”
So far, the Blades have been extremely difficult to play against; it even took Manchester City a late goal to see them off. But, that is a constant downfall this season. No matter how well Paul Heckingbottom’s team defend and how much they cause problems to the opposition, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot at the death.
Chris Sutton came out with a bizarre comment earlier this week insinuating that bottom-end Premier League football and Championship football is “pub football”.
Sutton and Merson have been very dismissive of Sheffield United’s chances in every game this campaign. In spite of that, the Blades have pushed Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to the brink.
Heckingbottom’s job: secure
Some absurd reports came out this week regarding the potential sacking of Paul Heckingbottom. These rumours sparked when journalists saw Chris Wilder at the Spurs vs Blades game and seemingly put that together with United’s rough start. But, these claims are beyond pathetic and even if Heckingbottom’s job was insecure, the players are backing him.
In Stephen Bettis‘ latest interview, it appeared that even if the Blades were to get relegated this season he’d still be the manager next term.
Injury news & suspensions
One positive coming into this weekend is that Sheffield United will have had a longer resting and preparation period for this game than Newcastle United. A major negative is they’ll be without Oli McBurnie due to his one-match ban.
Meanwhile, Eddie Howe faces the absence of the crucial midfield duo, Joe Willock and Joelinton, meaning there are significant decisions regarding his midfield for Sunday’s game. Nevertheless, it’s important to highlight that Sandro Tonali, who had been sidelined due to a muscle problem, returned by starting the match in Milan.
Paul Heckingbottom decided not to include John Egan in the lineup against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. This decision was influenced by the Sheffield United captain’s recent return from international duty with the Republic of Ireland, where he had suffered knee and ankle injuries. The Blades gaffer recently hit out at Ireland’s manager because of the incident.