Sheffield United faces a challenging task in avoiding relegation to the Championship, and manager Paul Heckingbottom will need a quick turnaround, starting against Wolves on Saturday.
Heckingbottom has lost 16 of his first 20 Premier League games in charge. Only Mick McCarthy has lost more of his first 20 games in Premier League history, with 17 losses. This statistic highlights the uphill battle the team is currently facing.
Wolves have shown resilience and improvement in the Premier League, now enjoying a five-game unbeaten run. They demonstrated this by coming from behind, twice, to secure a 2-2 draw against Newcastle in their last match. This streak includes notable victories over Man City and Bournemouth, as well as draws against Luton and Aston Villa. It’s a positive sign of their progress after a challenging start to the season where they had the toughest opening fixtures in the Premier League.
Oli McBurnie once again misses out this weekend due to a groin injury, so does Anel Ahmedhodzic, however Paul Heckingbottom hinted on SUTV that the pair could return next week. Will Osula and Max Lowe are also doubts but they edge closer to a return. The Blades did get a boost when George Baldock got minutes off the bench against Arsenal last week.
The only notable absence for Gary O’Neil is their star player Pedro Neto who picked up a hamstring problem in their previous match.
With United’s number nine out for another game they need Cameron Archer and/or Rhian Brewster to step up in his absence. In every game where McBurnie hasn’t been available this season the Blades have looked terrible in attack; without him they lack the ability to hold up the ball and draw fouls, to relieve the pressure off their defence.
Heckingbottom is not getting the best out of Archer at the moment and he looks a completely different player to who we saw at Middlesbrough last term.
Apart from a 20 minute cameo in the first half against Everton, and 20 minutes in the first half against Manchester United, I can’t think of any moments where Archer has shown his £18 million price-tag. The game will be open this Saturday so Archer should have chances to score.
Hwang Hee-chan has been on fire recently averaging a goal every 99 minutes with only 1.6 shots per game. That’s essentially saying, he is very clinical. Apart from his goals, he brings pace to the Wolves front line and he has the ability to skip past players using his speed as well as trickery, averaging a 73% successful dribble rate per game [SofaScore].
Wolverhampton Wanderers are in good form, remaining unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches (with two wins and three draws). In their recent matches, both teams have scored in their last eight games across all competitions.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, have struggled defensively, conceding at least two goals in their last four Premier League home matches.
Hwang Hee-chan has been a key contributor to Wolves’ attack, scoring six of their 13 league goals this season [Opta]. With Pedro Neto out for a while with a hamstring problem, they will be relying on the South Korean over this stretch of games.
Although Wolves have been in great form of late, this is a stylistic match-up that makes it an ‘easier’ game for the Blades from an attacking point of view, but it could be a nightmare defensively.
Sheffield United will find players in space in attack due to the back and forth type of tempo of the match. On the flip side, Wolves have several ball carriers that can draw the Blades out of shape and then punish them.
The statistical probabilities from Sports Mole suggest that the most likely outcome for the upcoming match is a Wolverhampton Wanderers win, with a probability of 47.03%. A Sheffield United win is less likely, with a probability of 30.12%, and a draw falls in between, with a probability of 22.8%. It’ll be interesting to see if these predictions align with the actual result on the day of the match.