Manchester United vs Sheffield United – Preview

Bottom of the league Sheffield United travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Wednesday evening.

The Blades will have to dust themselves off after suffering another embarrassing home defeat at the weekend where Burnley put them to the sword in a 4-1 defeat. That crushing loss at Bramall Lane all but mathematically confirms Sheffield United will be playing in the Championship next season.

Manchester United meanwhile are probably still wondering how they let a three goal lead slip in their FA Cup semi-final tie against Coventry City. The Championship outfit showed tremendous resilience as they were controversially ruled a last minute extra time goal out to win the game, before bowing out in a penalty shootout.

Despite advancing to the FA Cup final, Erik ten Hag’s status as the Red Devils manager continues to be insecure, and a less than positive result against Sheffield United could just about tip it over the edge.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 21: Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United prepares to take a penalty during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane on October 21, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Team news

Sheffield United face a potential setback with Oli McBurnie and Gustavo Hamer nursing muscle strains from Saturday’s encounter, casting doubt on their availability for the upcoming fixture.

However, there might be a glimmer of hope as Jack Robinson eyes a return, offering a boost to the defensive lineup Chris Wilder revealed in his press conference that the defender is hobbling around the training ground holding his hand up to play.

Additionally, the return of Tom Davies, Rhian Brewster, and Daniel Jebbison to light training signifies positive progress on the injury front, hinting at potential reinforcements in the near future.

The Red Devils are set to assess the condition of Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford, both of whom sustained knocks in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final. Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes are expected to be available.

Players to watch

Despite coming into this game off the back of a thrashing, the Blades should find moments to capitalise on in this game with Wednesday’s hosts having a very leaky defence.

On that note, Manchester City loanee James McAtee could find himself involved in the action if indeed he is selected, and he is my pick to cause the most problems for Manchester United.

Meanwhile, although Bruno Fernandes is carrying a slight knock heading into this contest, if he is fit enough to start he can continue his prolific form from over the weekend, having notched a goal and an assist against Coventry, elevating his season’s tally to an impressive 13.

With four goals in his last four appearances for the Red Devils, the Portugal international is in a rich vein of scoring form. Bolstered by this momentum, he should be confident about adding to his goal tally, particularly against the Blades who boast the league’s weakest defensive record.

Key stats

Manchester United’s sole defeat in the last ten Premier League encounters against the Blades occurred during the last fixture at Old Trafford in January 2021, a 2-1 loss. The Blades now stand on the cusp of a historic feat, aiming to secure consecutive away victories against the Red Devils for the first time since 1973.

Meanwhile, Manchester United’s defensive woes have been glaring, conceding a staggering 74 goals across all competitions this season, marking their highest tally in 45 years. Their vulnerability is further highlighted by facing 20 or more shots in each of their previous six league matches, a statistic only matched by Blackpool in Premier League history.

On the other hand, Sheffield United, though struggling defensively, have their own aspirations, with Gustavo Hamer poised to join an elite group as the third player in the club’s history to achieve five goals and five assists in a Premier League campaign, following in the footsteps of Brian Deane and Dane Whitehouse.

With 88 goals conceded in the Premier League, Sheffield United find themselves trailing just one goal behind Derby County’s record of 89 in a 38-match season.

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