Sheffield United are in need of a quick turnaround following a disappointing 3-0 loss to Newcastle United at St James’ Park, but will find Manchester United a difficult test.
After an unfortunate goal-line technology saw them draw 0-0 to Aston Villa last week, the defeat on Sunday was a rare blip in what has been a revelatory campaign from the Blades. They remain two points behind a guaranteed European spot.
Wednesday’s game offers Sheffield United the chance to close that gap, as Manchester United are currently fifth. The Red Devils were unable to further the gap in their game on Friday, needing an 81st minute penalty to draw 1-1 against Tottenham Hotspur in London.
Sheffield United are forced into a change in goal, with the conditions of Dean Henderson’s loan deal making him ineligible to play his parent club. John Egan, the ever-present defender, was sent off against Newcastle and will serve a one-match suspension. Jack O’Connell has been missing since the restart with a knee injury with a return date uncertain, while David McGoldrick will hope to return from a knock sustained in the Aston Villa game. Phil Jagielka rolled his ankle in training and Chris Wilder will hope the experienced defender will be fit for the game.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no new injury concerns. Victor Lindelof had left the second half against Tottenham but is now fit to face the Blades. Defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones remain injured. Paul Pogba, returning from injury, could start after an impressive cameo against Spurs.
The reverse fixture in Bramall Park produced an entertaining 3-3 draw earlier in the season. John Fleck and Lys Mousset had given the Blades a 2-0 lead, before United came back with three goals in seven minutes towards the end of the game. However, Oli McBurnie equalized in the 90th minute to leave both teams with mixed feelings of relief and disappointment.
Sheffield United’s last visit to Old Trafford saw them lose 1-0 courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty in the 90th minute, in an FA Cup third-round match in January 2016.
Manchester United are unbeaten in 12 games across all competitions (W8 D4), scoring 30 goals and conceding just three.
Sheffield United’s last win in Old Trafford goes all the way back to 26 December 1973. Since then, they have lost all seven games played in the ground.
Sheffield United have not beaten Manchester United in eight games since their 2-1 FA Cup victory on 14 February 1993. The 3-3 draw in November broke a seven-game losing streak.
Only four players remain from the 2016 FA Cup match XIs: David de Gea, Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Chris Basham and Billy Sharp (Sheffield United).
ONE TO WATCH
It’s hard to look past Paul Pogba. While Bruno Fernandes has been United’s creative hub since his arrival in January, Pogba was the game-changer against Tottenham, pinging balls and winning the equalizing penalty with his quick feet. His substitute appearance will have had him wanting more, and Wednesday’s game might be his chance for a start.
The game is one of four to start at 6pm on Wednesday. The game is available on Sky Sports Premier League without crowd noise and Sky Sports Main Event with crowd noise. It’s also available on the free-to-air Sky Pick. Coverage starts at 5pm.