Monday, January 18, 2021

Manchester United v Sheffield United: Team news and pre-game thoughts

Tonight, Manchester United welcome Sheffield United to Old Trafford in an important clash as the pair both try to pile the pressure on Chelsea and open up the competition for that fourth and final Champions League spot.

United come into the game on the back of a not-too-disastrous draw against Spurs last week, while the Blades come into this game having been battered at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. Overall, we’ve had more recovery time, we’re fitter, we have more quality and it should be a cakewalk… but this is Manchester United.

Manchester United v Sheffield United – Team News

Paul Pogba could be in-line to start for the first time in quite a while after his inspirational performance from the bench in London last Friday helped United to pick up a point. Pogba won the penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted as the sides played out a 1-1 draw.

As a result, one of either Fred or Scott McTominay will drop to the bench tonight – the chances are it will be the latter. Either that, or Ole will have to change to a 4-3-1-2 to accommodate everyone, which could very well happen. We could even see both drop to the bench and Ole opt to start Nemanja Matic instead to rotate the team and keep legs fresh.

Either way, after a poor performance on Friday, I expect Daniel James will drop to the bench but after Blades left-back Enda Stevens’ howler on Sunday against the Magpies, confidence could be low so he might very well be there for the taking.

Manchester United star Daniel James
Daniel James isn’t in the best of form and could drop out of the team this week to make way for a change in formation

As for injuries, Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof are all listed as doubts. The first two didn’t feature against Spurs while Lindelof was subbed off with an injury in the second half. That could mean a start for Eric Bailly alongside Harry Maguire in the middle of the back line, but Lindelof may still be available.

In the Sheffield United camp, John Egan is suspended after his red card at St James’ Park. Meanwhile, Jack O’Connell is still listed as a doubt but the Blades have seriously missed him in their last two matches, so they’ll be hoping to have him back.

On O’Connell, Chris Wilder told media: “Hopeful that he’ll be close, see how today goes, important player for us and has been part of the group that’s done great in both ways, with and without the ball.”

The headline missing name for Sheffield United will be Dean Henderson. He is of course on loan to Bramall Lane from Manchester United so will be ineligible to play this evening and will be replaced by Simon Moore.

Pre-Game thoughts

This is a must-win. Simple as that. Chelsea play Manchester City tomorrow and our noisy neighbours look in great form and are the fittest team in the league after the restart, so the chances are that the Blues will drop points tomorrow.

If United win and Chelsea lose, the gap to fourth drops to just two points and, with a favourable schedule between now and the end of the season, Manchester United will be very well placed to go and nick that fourth spot. Especially given Chelsea still have Wolves AND Liverpool to play.

We have all winnable games from now until the last game of the season when we face Leicester. Depending on how they do between now and then, that game has a bit of six-pointer feel to it with regards to who will take a Champions League spot.

Either way, three points tonight is an absolute must. Come on United!

For more like this, visit the dedicated news page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter for more coverage of United.

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