Manchester United-Sheffield United Preview
Sheffield United look to maintain their top-five status Sunday when they clash with Manchester United at Bramall Lane.
The promoted Blades (4-5-3) have been the surprise package through the first third of the season, trailing only Leicester City (8) with nine goals conceded. Sheffield United also have held their own against the Big Six thus far, taking five points through the first four such matchups (1-2-1) and beating Arsenal last at home last month.
"When the fixtures come out, there are a few games that you look out for and this is one," John Lundstram told the club's official website. "They're a huge club, Bramall Lane will be rocking and with a full house behind us we'll be giving it our all."
Though there is no questioning the commitment to defence, Sheffield is still trying to find their way in attack. They have scored more than one goal on just three occasions, and their overall haul of 13 are the fewest of any top-half side.
That has contributed to a 3-0-3 record at Bramall Lane thus far, though Sheffield carry a 200-minute shutout streak into this game with back-to-back victories and clean sheets since Georginio Wijnaldum provided the decisive goal for Liverpool in the Blades' 1-0 loss Sept. 28.
Lundstram and Lyn Mousset share the team lead with three goals apiece, and Mousset in particular was in strong form ahead of the break with two goals and three assists in the four matches preceding the international break. Sheffield are unbeaten in their last five league matches (2-3-0), conceding just two goals in that span.
Leading a pack of three teams on 16 points in seventh place in the table, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is targeting a reduction in the nine-point gap on eternal rivals Manchester City for fourth place as the fixture list picks up. Manchester United (4-4-4) are still dealing with injuries - Paul Pogba, Marcus Rojo, and Scott McTominay have all been ruled out of this match, but Eric Bailly could fill Rojo's spot, and both wide backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are expected to be available.
"Yeah, it's a clear gap in the league between the top four," Solskjaer said during his Friday news conference. "There are, I don't know, many teams, within a range of three or four points. So, for us, it's about consistency now and getting as many points on the board as we can.
"We turned a corner we felt, performance-wise and results-wise after the last international break, but, then again, it's so tight and I'm just looking forward to this game. We need to have a good performance and a result."
The Red Devils are 5-0-1 in their last six matches in all competitions, which includes three wins in four outside Old Trafford. Manchester United had gone winless in their previous 11 road contests (0-4-7) before a 1-0 win at Partizan Belgrade on Oct. 24.
Manchester United have only recently begun to ignite offensively, with three-goal outputs against Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Those efforts, though, represent two of the only three league matches they have scored more than one goal this term.
Marcus Rashford has been the primary source of goals for United, scoring nine of team's 24 in all competitions. The England international has six in his last seven contests, a run that started with his marker Oct. 20 versus Liverpool that began his side's turnaround.
This is the first meeting between the sides since Manchester United escaped with a 1-0 victory in the third round of the 2016 FA Cup on Wayne Rooney's 93rd-minute penalty. The Red Devils have won the last five top-flight matches between the sides since Sheffield pulled off a shock 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane in the inaugural 1992-93 Premier League season.
Updated November 22, 2019