The Premier League is back and the short trip from Manchester to Sheffield is on the agenda heading into the winter stretch.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is enjoying his best spell in charge since his opening period at the beginning of the year, as Chris Wilder, one of the most talked-about managers in the country, attempts to claim another scalp in the Steel City.
Never refer to either of these clubs by their city’s name, as it’s battle of the United’s in Yorkshire this Sunday.
Kick-off: 16:30 [BST]
Venue: Bramall Lane
Referee: Andre Marriner
Recent form: DWDWD
Top goalscorer: Lys Mousset 
Most assists: John Lundstram/Lys Mousset 
Previous result: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Sheffield United (Baldock)
Flashback to their promotion in spring – who honestly would have believed that Sheffield United would be 12 games in, above Manchester United and have conceded the second-least amount of goals in the division? Hint: probably no one.
Although they have scored just 13 and drawn five games, Wilder has put himself amongst the best working English managers.
Promoted from all four lower leagues than the top-flight, the boyhood Blade is now at the peak of his powers. In spite of a lack of quality on paper, the 52-year-old’s old-school approach is working a treat.
Three league goals conceded in two months have largely been down to their plucky defence, made-up of fairly unglamorous names such as John Egan and Jack O’Connell; both linked with pricey moves away in January.
However, it is Red Devils loanee Dean Henderson who has been been the star between the sticks like he was last season, barring a clanger against Liverpool in the Blades’ solitary defeat in their last seven league games.
The England U21 international has kept five clean sheets, a joint division-best with Manchester City’s Ederson, and was nominated for October’s Premier League Player of the Month.
Due to being ineligible for this weekend, though, the Carlisle academy product is expected to be replaced by second-choice Simon Moore.
Finally, as Fantasy Premier League players will already know by now, midfielder John Lundstram has taken the division by storm.
Important goals and dominant displays have gained him plaudits, and the Liverpool-born 25-year-old spoke to the press ahead of the match, saying: “When the fixtures come out there are a few games that you look out for and this is one.
“They’re a huge club, Bramall Lane will be rocking and with a full house behind us we’ll be giving it our all.”
Onto this one, and after helping its team to Arsenal last month, Bramall Lane has already proved a potentially hostile ground.
French forward Lys Moussett bagged all three assists in their last match against Burnley, and scored one in each of the games prior, so watch out for him.
The Blades’ squad boasts two former and one current Manchester United players, so let us take a look.
On loan and therefore unavailable, Henderson has become a success story for the Red Devils’ loan system as of late. Starting with League Two side Grimsby Town, before moving to League One with Shrewsbury the following campaign. The stopper has now made the Steel City his home with stellar displays making him a fan favourite over the last 15 months.
In that same FA Youth Cup-winning team as Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, Morrison is one of the most infamous failures of the Mancunian academy.
Struggling to settle since departing Old Trafford in 2012, the Wythenshaw-born playmaker’s ability has never been called into question but his attitude has.
100 senior appearances and that youth hype were enough to convince Wilder, who handed him the full match against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup, a 0-1 defeat, along with 12 minutes against Leicester City back in August.
Imagine winning Championship promotion for the past three years and only now coming up to the Premier League… Well, for Norwood that is a reality.
Despite not making a senior appearance for Manchester United, he eventually achieved big things Brighton & Albion (2017) and Fulham (2018) in two but Sheffield United are the first team he has stuck with.
The 28-year-old captain sits as the midfield pivot in Wilder’s midfield and only made his loan permanent from Brighton in January.
(3-5-2) Moore; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick, Mousset
Quote from the boss
“Every game is an event in the Premier League, look at the slickness of the media coverage we get and put out. The Championship was great but the Premier League is a whole different ball game.” – Chris Wilder
Next match: Wolverhampton Wanderers [H] 1/12
THE RED DEVILS
Comfortable, confident and comprehensive, United swatted aside Brighton to go into the break. Although blighted by Scott McTominay’s last-minute ankle injury, few could argue it was not an encouraging day at Old Trafford.
Fred had arguably his best game for the club, dominating midfield with energy and endeavour while Brandon Williams was handed his first Premier League start at left-back and made it count.
Harry Maguire captained the team and is expected to don the armband again in his hometown where he broke through as a teenager.
No injuries picked up by the international members of the squad is another positive for Solskjær, as he has a growing roster to pick a starting XI from.
There was a midweek boost on Wednesday as the squad, equipped with new training gear, welcomed back a host of men off the treatment table including Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Nemanja Matić, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe.
Academy members Di’Shon Bernard, Teden Mengi, D’Mani Mellor and Largie Ramazaniall all took part in that session.
More plusses for the younger side of the club came over the international break, with James Garner (two goals, one assist) Angel Gomes (three assists), Mason Greenwood and Ethan Laird (both one goal) contributing to England’s youth teams.
In the United U23s fixture against Sunderland last night, Tahith Chong, Garner, Gomes, Greenwood or Williams were all excluded from the squad.
😄A few familiar faces back in training today🔴 pic.twitter.com/LH9ovyPuLV
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 20, 2019
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Eric Bailly – knee ligaments (back in training)
- Diogo Dalot – knock (back in training)
- Timothy Fosu-Mensah – knee (back in training)
- Nemanja Matić – knock (back in training
- Scott McTominay – ankle (two weeks)
- Paul Pogba – ankle (two weeks)
- Axel Tuanzebe – hip (back in training)
- Luke Shaw – hamstring (back in training)
(4-2-3-1) De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Young; Matić, Fred; James, Pereira, Rashford; Martial
Quote from the boss
“It’s about consistency now, and getting as many points on the board as we can. We turned a corner performance-wise and results-wise after the last international break. We need to have a good performance and a result.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Next match: Astana [A] 28/11
POTENTIAL KEY BATTLES
– Lys Mousset vs Harry Maguire
– Oliver Norwood vs Andreas Pereira
– Edna Stevens vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka
MATCH FACTS [FotMob]
- After beating Man Utd 2-1 on the first-ever day in Premier League history in August 1992, Sheffield United have lost each of their last five against the Red Devils in the top-flight
- In all competitions, Manchester United have won their last seven meetings with Sheffield United, by an aggregate score of 14-1
- Sheffield United vs Manchester United is famous as being the fixture to produce the first-ever Premier League goal – with Brian Deane netting for the Blades after five minutes in their meeting on 15th August 1992
- Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, Manchester United have lost six of their 19 away Premier League games against promoted sides (W11 D2 L6) – just one fewer than they did in 62 such games with him in charge (W36 D19 L7)
Enjoy the match!