Manchester United are yet to win consecutive Premier League games this season. Will they finally find consistency on Matchday 9? We look ahead to Saturday’s late kick-off with our Sheffield United vs Manchester United prediction and preview.
Sheffield United vs Manchester United: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer predicts Manchester United to clinch back-to-back Premier League wins on Saturday, giving them a 52.4% chance of victory at Bramall Lane.
- Man Utd have won their last nine Premier League games against promoted teams, their longest such run since winning 12 in a row between May 2011 and March 2013.
- A defeat for Sheffield United would make them the first team in English top-flight history to take one point or fewer from their first nine games of multiple seasons, having done so in 2020-21.
Manchester United got out of jail on Matchday 8, and Erik ten Hag knew it. “It has to be a turning point,” the Dutchman declared after Scott McTominay’s remarkable stoppage-time brace handed the Red Devils a dramatic 2-1 win over Brentford. Can they finally find some consistency when they visit Sheffield United for Saturday’s late kick-off?
Man Utd are yet to win back-to-back Premier League games this campaign, following up each of their first three victories of 2023-24 – against Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Burnley – with defeats. Ten Hag will hope to see a similar spirit on display at Bramall Lane to that eventually shown against Brentford as they aim to break free of that win-loss pattern.
Ten Hag’s men clinched victory from the jaws of defeat against Thomas Frank’s side, with McTominay coming on as an 87th-minute substitute to strike twice in what was known as ‘Fergie Time’ during Sir Alex Ferguson‘s reign. Since the start of last season, no team has had more Premier League goals scored by substitutes than United, with only Brighton matching their tally of 15 (excluding own goals).
McTominay could be rewarded with a start on Saturday, potentially ahead of Mason Mount, whose underwhelming form saw him omitted from England’s squad for wins over Australia and Italy. Casemiro has been ruled out as he recovers from a “small issue” in Brazil and will be back in training early next week ahead of the Manchester derby.
The visitors will hope the international break helped ease their defensive injury crisis, with Sergio Reguilón and Raphaël Varane closing in on returns. Lisandro Martínez and Aaron Wan-Bissaka remain long-term absentees, however.
Further forward, captain Bruno Fernandes will likely be Manchester United’s main source of creativity again. Only Tottenham’s James Maddison (48) has managed more combined shots and chances created than Fernandes’ 47 in the Premier League this season (25 shots, 22 chances created).
Marcus Rashford is another attacking player looking to kick on after scoring an excellent breakaway goal in England’s Euro 2024 qualification win over Italy. He has six goal involvements in four Premier League appearances against Sheffield United (three goals, three assists), with all three goals coming at Bramall Lane.
If Man Utd’s start to 2023-24 has been underwhelming, Sheffield United’s has been truly dismal. The Blades lost 3-1 at Fulham last time out in a contest marred by an awful injury to Chris Basham, leaving them bottom of the Premier League table with one point from eight games – the joint-lowest tally recorded by a team at this stage of a season.
Should Paul Heckingbottom’s team suffer another defeat on Saturday, it will represent the 10th instance of a team starting an English top-flight season with one point or fewer from nine games. Sheffield United would become the first club to do so twice, having begun their ill-fated 2020-21 campaign with one draw and eight defeats under Chris Wilder.
Wilder was recently linked with a return to Bramall Lane, with Heckingbottom under pressure after losing 14 of his 18 games (including a spell as Blades interim manager in 2021) as a Premier League boss (78%). Among all managers to take charge of 10 or more games in the competition, only former Huddersfield Town coach Jan Siewert has a worse loss ratio (80%, 12 of 15).
Heckingbottom suffered another blow recently as Tom Davies was ruled out for several months after suffering an injury in training, joining John Egan and Basham on the sidelines. However, Ben Osborn is nearing a return to fitness while John Fleck and Rhian Brewster stepped up their own recoveries by featuring for the Blades’ Under-21s last week.
Sheffield United vs Manchester United Head-to-head
Sheffield United have traditionally found points hard to come by against Man Utd, only winning two of their 10 Premier League meetings (one draw, seven losses).
However, one of those victories came when the teams last met in January 2021, with Oliver Burke’s strike handing the bottom-of-the-table Blades a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford. Sheffield United’s only other Premier League win over Man Utd came on the opening weekend of the inaugural 1992-93 campaign.
Saturday’s visitors, though, are unbeaten on their last six trips to Bramall Lane, posting five wins and one draw there since suffering a 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup in February 1993.
United also have an excellent record against promoted teams in general, winning their last nine Premier League games against them.
This is their longest such run since they posted 12 consecutive victories over Premier League new boys between May 2011 to March 2013, while they have also won their last six such games on their travels.
Sheffield United are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat on Saturday. They have also shipped two or more goals in each of their last seven league matches, conceding 21 times in total.
There have only been eight previous instances of a team conceding multiple goals in eight successive games within a single Premier League season, most recently West Brom in February 2021. The Baggies ended that run with a 1-1 draw against Man Utd.
Having won at Burnley on their last road trip, Ten Hag’s men could win back-to-back away league games for the first time since beating Fulham and Wolves either side of last year’s FIFA World Cup.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Sheffield United vs Manchester United Prediction
In 10,000 match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer before kick-off, Manchester United were victorious in 52.4% of scenarios.
Sheffield United’s chances of earning their first win since promotion from the Championship are rated at 20.5%, leaving the likelihood of a draw at 27.1%.
Neither side can take much heart from the supercomputer’s overall season projections. While Manchester United are given just a 3.4% chance of a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification, Sheffield United are relegated in a huge 85% of scenarios.