Sheffield United kick off their 2020/2021 Premier League campaign with the visit of Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Both teams enjoyed hugely successful seasons last time out as Wilder’s men secured a tremendous top half finish, making a mockery of claims that they were favourites for the drop and Nuno’s side equally defied expectations by finishing 7th and reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Two sides who demonstrate the values of using a back three go toe-to-toe in what promises to be an intense and tactical tussle. Whilst there are always more questions than answers going into a new campaign, United and Wolves are two of the most consistent teams in the division in terms of their approach.
Both teams are strong defensively, exceptional at staying in games and grinding out results. It will no doubt be a tight affair as Wilder and Nuno try to steer their sides towards 3 points on their opening night.
Both managers have dipped into the transfer market this summer and are likely to field some fresh faces on Monday evening. One signing who will surely make his debut is Sheffield’s new number 1, Aaron Ramsdale who was brought in to replace Dean Henderson for the Blades.
Fellow new signings Jayden Bogle, Max Lowe, Oli Burke and loanee Ethan Ampadu could also be involved while Sander Berge is a doubt after picking up a knee injury on international duty.
Wolves new recruits Fabio Silva, Fernando Marçal and Vitinho will be pushing for places in Nuno’s starting XI and with plenty of excitement surrounding the new starlet striker Silva, their fans will be eager to see their new frontman.
With the sale of Matt Doherty to Spurs, Adama Traore is likely to drop back into the right wing-back role for Nuno.
The two teams met at the Lane in July as United ran out 1-0 winners thanks to an injury-time John Egan header. The game looked poised for a goalless stalemate but for the last-gasp strike from the Irishman and a draw would have arguably been a fair result.
Much like the reverse fixture last season which finished 1-1, the game was tight with neither side willing to give an inch and both teams proving incredibly difficult to break down. Monday evening will likely offer more of the same, with fine margins deciding the tie.
Having won 99 of his 195 matches in charge of the Blades, Wilder is one win away from being the first Sheffield United manager to win 100 games in fewer than 200 outings.
The Blades won the only previous opening top-flight meeting back in 1961.
Wolves are off the back of a gruelling season that lasted an astounding 383 days.
Sheffield United are yet to lose on the opening day of the Premier League (two wins and two draws).
One to Watch
Fabio Silva. The Portuguese wonderkid signed for a club-record £36million this Summer and is one of the most exciting young talents in Europe. Wolves had to fend off suitors from the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A in order to secure his services and fans will now be eager to see him play in the Wolves shirt.
As a young, raw talent, Nuno is unlikely to start him from the off but he is expected to be part of the squad for Monday evening. With a solid foundation at the back and a hardworking, tidy midfield, Wolves often rely on moments of brilliance from their frontmen to win them matches and the young Portuguese striker from FC Porto is capable of providing exactly that.
The match kicks off at 6 pm on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League on Monday, with the option of crowd noise or natural sound available.