Premier League: Sheffield United v Newcastle United

The Blades picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, beating League One side Bristol Rovers 3-2 in a game where they were twice pegged back by their lower league counterparts.

Shortly after, Newcastle exited the competition after losing 2-0 to Arsenal after extra time, missing a host of chances to win the game within 90 minutes.

As attention turns back to league competition, this game serves as one that both sides will regard as important, with Sheffield United’s time running out to begin their fight against the drop.

They’ve yet to win this season in the league, but will fancy their chances against a Newcastle side that haven’t won any of their last six games in all competitions.

As such, the bookies have Chris Wilder’s side as the favourites to win the match, which outlines just how the Magpies have slumped recently.

Steve Bruce’s back five system remains unpopular with fans, but a back four formation may be used as they target a win against the Blades which could ease the gap between them and the bottom three.

The Newcastle boss confirmed that he left some players out of the visit to Arsenal in order to be fresh for the trip to the Steel City, with Fabian Schar, Karl Darlow and Federico Fernandez all ready to return to the squad. Whether Darlow will get the nod over Martin Dubravka remains to be seen, after the Slovakian stopper turned in an excellent performance at the Emirates on his return from injury.

Allan Saint-Maximin is waiting for COVID guidelines to rule when he can return to training so will miss out, but Jamaal Lascelles got through most of the Arsenal game before being substituted due to fatigue, and could make the squad.

Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey were among those who didn’t travel to London, and should both make the squad, along with Jamal Lewis, who has been struggling with a knock recently.

For Sheffield United, Chris Wilder has five players who are struggling with injuries and will be assessed closer to kick-off. Lys Mousset, Enda Stevens and George Baldock are more likely to make the squad than Phil Jagielka and Billy Sharp though. Sander Berge is out for up to four months with a tendon injury.

A win for Sheffield United could take them to within three points of West Brom at the bottom of the table, while a Newcastle victory would put them 11 points clear of the relegation zone after 17 games.

Newcastle United take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, January 12th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Premier League: Sheffield United v Manchester United

Chris Wilder’s side are rooted to the bottom of the table after a dozen games, six points of adrift of West Brom who sacked Slaven Bilic on Wednesday, and haven’t won a league game all season.

But Wilder isn’t worried for his future despite speculation recently, in a week where he was publicly backed by the club’s owner. He has however insisted the club’s slump is his responsibility and is not shying away from trying to turn fortunes around.

In order to do that, Wilder will be hoping to call upon the services of Oli McBurnie, who will be monitored in the run-up to kick-off after injuring a shoulder in the 3-0 defeat to Southampton. Lys Mousset scored in this fixture last season and is available to deputise, as are Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick.

Jack O’Connell is out for the majority of the season with a knee ligament injury, and one of Phil Jagielka, Ethan Ampadu, Enda Stevens or Jack Robinson will play in Wilder’s usual back three formation.

The Blades boss spoke about his system in Wednesday’s press conference, insisting his players suit the system as pressure to ditch it increases from corners of the media.

In the opposing dugout, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has almost all of his squad available, with only Phil Jones and Edinson Cavani missing. Cavani was described as a risk by the Norwegian, so is unlikely to make the trip to Sheffield.

United are on a run of nine Premier League consecutive wins away from home, and a win would see them become only the fourth side in history to make it ten in a row. They’ll be hoping to stop a run of conceding first on their travels though, as they’ve came from behind in all of their five away games this season so far to win.

A win for Solskjaer would see his side leapfrog Chelsea in the table and keep up the pressure on the front runners as the festive period begins, with the Red Devils also still having a game in hand after their delayed start to the season.

Sheffield United take on Manchester United on Thursday, December 17th. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Phil Jagielka and Jack Rodwell sign Blades extensions

Both players had been out of contract since the end of the interrupted 2019/20 season.

Their previous deals had been due to expire on June 30 but they agreed short-term extensions to take them to the end of the campaign when fixtures were rearranged following the coronavirus stoppage.

Now the club have moved to secure their services for the forthcoming season.

Former England defender Jagielka, 38, rejoined the Blades on a free transfer at the beginning of last season after a 12-year spell at Everton. He made 10 appearances in all competitions for Chris Wilder’s side during the campaign.

Former Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland midfielder Rodwell, 29, made two appearances after signing for the club in January.

Manager Wilder told the club’s website, www.sufc.co.uk: “Phil is a valuable and respected member of the squad and I’m delighted to keep him in the building for next season.

“The same applies with Jack, who offered us versatility and gave us options within the group during the second half of last term.”