Manchester City vs Sheffield United – Preview

Manchester City, reigning champions in English, European, and world football, aim to conclude a remarkable 2023 on a positive note as they host Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium in a Premier League encounter this Saturday.

This marks the first meeting between the two teams since late August, where a late 88th-minute goal from Rodri secured a 2-1 triumph for City at Bramall Lane.

Just five days after clinching their inaugural Club World Cup title, Manchester City resumed their winning streak in the Premier League by overcoming a deficit to secure a 3-1 victory against Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.

After a period of declining performance between the end of November and the beginning of December, Manchester City rebounded strongly by winning five and drawing one of their last six games across all competitions. However, persistent defensive vulnerabilities persist, as they have conceded goals in each of their last eight Premier League matches. This undesirable streak marks a record run since the arrival of Pep Guardiola in 2016.

Meanwhile, Sheffield United appeared poised to secure their second consecutive home victory under Chris Wilder in the recent clash against fellow strugglers Luton Town.

Goals from Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic overturned an early lead from Alfie Doughty. However, after a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa where they conceded a late equaliser four days earlier, the Blades once again surrendered their advantage, as described by Wilder. Two own goals, courtesy of Jack Robinson and Anis Ben Slimane in the final 13 minutes, turned the tide of the game, resulting in a 3-2 defeat for the hosts and marking their 14th loss of the season.

Team News

Erling Haaland is expected to remain sidelined until the upcoming year, and Manchester City is carefully managing the return of Kevin De Bruyne. Additionally, John Stones, who sustained an injury during the recent victory over Everton, is confirmed to be unavailable for the upcoming game.

For the Blades, Gustavo Hamer and Anel Ahmedhodzic will be unavailable due to suspension, having accumulated yellow cards. James McAtee, though ineligible to play against his parent club, won’t feature in the match. On a positive note, Jayden Bogle is set to return from suspension.

Key Stats

Manchester City maintains an undefeated record in the Premier League against Sheffield United, with eight wins and three draws. Notably, they have secured victories in the past six consecutive encounters.

Additionally, Sheffield United have yet to score in five Premier League away matches against Manchester City. This goalless streak marks a notable record, with only Birmingham (seven against Manchester United) having visited an opponent more times without finding the net in the competition.

The encounters between Manchester City and Sheffield United in the Premier League have been surprisingly low-scoring, with only 14 goals scored in 11 meetings (12 for Manchester City and two for Sheffield United), averaging 1.3 goals per game. Among fixtures played at least 10 times, only Bolton vs. Southampton (1.2) has seen fewer goals per game.

Sheffield United faces a challenging record against reigning top-flight champions, having lost their last nine league games in such situations since their 2-1 victory over Leeds United in April 1993. Furthermore, in away games against reigning champions, they have suffered defeat in their last 11 encounters, with their last victory being a 1-0 win over Arsenal in August 1971.

Opta Prediction

The statistical analysis suggests that the most probable outcome for this match is a Manchester City win, with a high probability of 91.4%. A draw is less likely, with a probability of 6.2%, while a victory for Sheffield United is considered the least probable outcome, with a probability of 2.44%.