European hopefuls Sheffield United will be looking to get their Premier League campaign back on track on Thursday when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Bramall Lane.
Blades boss Chris Wilder said he was ‘sick and tired’ of talk of a Champions League place, after his side had turned in two ‘bang average’ Premier League performances in their opening two fixtures post-restart.
Wilder’s misery has been accentuated further since those comments, with United yet to win any of their four matches since lockdown.
The Premier League’s Project Restart kicked off on June 17 with Sheffield United playing Aston Villa in the curtain raiser, a game where Wilder was denied all three points against struggling Villa due to a rare failure in goal-line technology.
That misfortune perhaps set the stage for what was to come, with the Blades defence uncharacteristically leaky in back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Newcastle and Manchester United respectively.
The weekend just gone offered some respite from league affairs for the Blades, who hosted Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter final, but any dreams of unlikely silverware were dashed by a last-gasp Dani Ceballos winner for the Gunners.
Thursday’s clash with Tottenham represents a chance to get back to winning ways, however in Spurs they face opposition also gunning for a European berth.
Jose Mourinho’s side have taken 4 points from their 2 matches since the season’s resumption, with a 1-1 draw against Manchester United followed by a 2-0 London derby win at home to West Ham.
The trip to Bramall Lane represents Spurs’ first game on the road since they were put out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig in March.
There may be no better time for Tottenham to travel to Yorkshire, with Sheffield United out of sorts and now looking doubtful to cling on to a Europa League spot.
If Chris Wilder is to arrest the Blades’ slide down the table, having John Lundstram and Jack O’Connell available will help – although both will need to prove their fitness ahead of kick off and will be assessed.
Lundstram only managed 35 minutes of Sunday’s FA Cup loss to Arsenal, with a shoulder injury forcing him off.
Wilder claims the midfielder is ‘touch and go’ for Thursday’s game, with Lundstram set to undergo a scan to learn the extent of the damage.
For O’Connell, a peculiar knock has kept him out of the last 3 matches, the defender missing out due to a training ground collision with Dean Henderson 2 weeks ago.
Tottenham arguably had one of the worst injury pile-ups in the Premier League when the season was suspended, but the 3-month layoff has been useful for the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, who recovered from long term injuries during the break.
Jose Mourinho won’t take Japhet Tangana, Juan Foyth or Troy Parrott to Bramall Lane, with the trio sidelined.
Just 2 places and a single point separates these two teams, as 9th plays 7th in the Premier League.
Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane is a 6pm kick off on Thursday, July 2.