Sheffield United v Manchester United: Blades can keep Red Devils at bay
Newly-promoted Sheffield United sit one point and two places above Manchester United coming into the weekend's contest and Mark O'Haire thinks the visitors might struggle...
Sheffield United v Manchester United Sunday November 24, 16:30 Sky Sports
Blades answering critics
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said his side's 1-1 draw at Tottenham before the international break showed the Blades' Premier League credentials after they were "ridiculed" at the start of the season for their style of play. George Baldock's fortuitous equaliser saw the newly-promoted club stretch their unbeaten league run to five games.
Baldock's mis-hit cross - which came moments after United had a goal disallowed for offside by the video assistant referee - evaded everyone inside the Spurs penalty area before finding the bottom corner. With the Blades having fallen behind against the run of play, Wilder was delighted with his team's response in the capital.
"I'm proud of the players, the performance, and I thought we took the game to the opposition from the off. We feel we have identity. We've restricted world-class players to very few opportunities. I believe we were the better side." Defensively, United have doubts over John Egan's fitness for Sunday, whilst loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson is ineligible.
Manchester United produce their best display yet?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described Manchester United's 3-1 win over Brighton before the international break as "their best performance of the season". Andreas Pereira and Marcus Rashford scored either side of a Davy Propper own goal to give the Red Devils their biggest home Premier League triumph since August and into their highest position for two months.
Rashford should have had another but inexplicably fired wide of an open goal. Brighton keeper Mat Ryan saved from Dan James and Fred, before denying what would have been a memorable solo effort from Anthony Martial with Solskjaer admitting, "It was exhilarating and entertaining. How we didn't end up with five, six or seven I don't know."
The victory came at a cost, though, as midfielder Scott McTominay picked up an injury and is now considered a major doubt for Sunday's trip to Sheffield. Elsewhere, Paul Pogba, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Eric Bailly remain out but Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic are edging closer to a return and Ashley Young is available after a ban.
Red Devils odds-against on the road
Sheffield United beat Manchester United 2-1 on the first ever day in Premier League history back in August 1992 but the Red Devils have won each of their following five top-flight fixtures with the Blades since. Include all competitions and the visitors have taken top honours in the last seven renewals by an aggregate score of 14-1.
Sheffield United's3.80 only defeat in their last seven outings came against table-topping Liverpool in unfortunate circumstances. However, during that same sequence, the Blades have beaten Arsenal and Burnley in their past two here at Bramall Lane and earned credible stalemates on the road at Watford, West Ham and Tottenham.
Man Utd2.26 have picked up five wins in six across all competitions since a 1-1 draw with Liverpool. But the Red Devils' league efforts have been mixed (W2-D2-L3) since September, conceding in all seven, as well as losing at West Ham, Newcastle and Bournemouth. The guests have won just three of 15 away trips since that famous comeback in Paris in March.
Interestingly, when Man Utd have been priced up at greater than evens visiting teams outside the Big Six in the Premier league, they've lost five of their last six winless outings. Moreover, the Red Devils have lost both encounters this decade when priced up at greater than 2.20 at promoted outfits - Bournemouth (2015/16) and Wolves (2018/19).
Few goals fancied
Only third-placed Leicester have conceded fewer league goals than Sheffield United this term - a record even more impressive when you consider Chris Wilder's side have already faced four of the Premier League's current top-six. The Blades' 12 tussles have averaged just 1.83 goals with nine paying out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.69 backers.
Man Utd have won just one of their last 10 Premier League away games (W1-D3-L6) - at injury-stricken Norwich - and conceded at least once in each of their last 11 on the road. The Red Devils have largely underwhelmed this term with eight (67%) Under 2.5 Goals winners, including five from six on their travels, suggesting goals could be in short supply on Sunday.
I'm happy to head to the Same Game Multi market where 2.50is available on Sheffield United in the Double Chance market alongside Under 2.5 Goals, a profitable selection in 14 (58%) of the duos combined 24 fixtures in total, and 7/12 (58%) contests in the teams' respective home/away ties.