One team has started with two defeats, the other with two wins. No prizes for guessing which one is which. Read on for our Sheffield United vs Manchester City prediction and preview.
Sheffield United vs Manchester City: The Quick Hits
- Manchester City are strong favourites to win at Bramall Lane, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 65.1% chance of victory.
- A win for Manchester City would be Pep Guardiola’s 200th Premier League victory.
- Sheffield United have never beaten Manchester City in a Premier League game.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola has brought up plenty of personal accolades during his time in England, and he could reach another one on Sunday. Should City win at Sheffield United, Guardiola will become the fastest manager in English top-flight history to 200 victories, taking just 269 games.
That would beat José Mourinho’s current record by a distance, with the former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham boss taking 326 games to record his 200th Premier League victory.
Man City have won their opening two Premier League games this season, against Burnley and Newcastle United, but haven’t won their first three since their first campaign under Guardiola in 2016-17. However, they take on a Sheff Utd side who have lost their opening two games this season. They have only started a season with three league defeats on three previous occasions – 1966-67 (top-flight), 1995-96 (second tier) and 2020-21 (Premier League).
Paul Heckingbottom will have been encouraged by his team’s resilience after going a goal down early on at Nottingham Forest last week, with debutant Gustavo Hamer scoring a beautiful equaliser, only for Chris Wood to break their hearts late on. Should Hamer find the net against City, he will become only the second player to score in his first two Premier League appearances for Sheffield United, after Brian Deane in their first two games in the competition all the way back in August 1992.
Phil Foden stepped up in the absence of the injured Kevin De Bruyne against Newcastle, creating seven chances in open play, the most he has ever managed in 131 career appearances, and the most by a City player in a Premier League game since De Bruyne against Norwich City in July 2020 (also seven).
Foden’s ability to get on the ball and carry it forward was key, with five of his chances created coming after a ball carry, the most by a player in a Premier League game since Nathan Redmond in May 2021 for Southampton against West Ham (seven) and most by a City player in a game since David Silva against West Brom in March 2015 (five).
Foden also provided the assist for Julián Álvarez’s winner against Newcastle. It was the Argentine’s 10th Premier League goal for City, with his last three all being the winning goal in the game. City have actually gone on to win all nine games when Álvarez has scored, with only former Fulham and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling scoring in more Premier League games and ending on the winning side each time (11).
Sheffield United could hand a debut to new signing Cameron Archer, is he completes his move from Aston Villa in time to make the squad.
City will remain without De Bruyne, who is out for the next few months after sustaining a hamstring injury in the opening-day win over Burnley. Another Belgian – new arrival Jérémy Doku – could make his debut after signing from Rennes on Thursday.
Sheffield United vs Manchester City Head-to-Head
It bodes well for City that they have never lost to Sunday’s opponents in the Premier League. The last time Sheffield United got the better of them in the top tier was in February 1992 in the old First Division, a 4-2 win at Bramall Lane.
They have played 10 times in the Premier League since then, with City winning seven (D3). The last time Sheffield United won this fixture in any competition was in the FA Cup in 2008, winning their fourth-round clash 2-1 at Bramall Lane thanks to goals from Luke Shelton and Jon Stead.
Man City have conceded just once in their 10 Premier League games against Sheffield United. Their clean sheet ratio of 90% against them is the highest one team has against another in the competition (min. five meetings).
Their last three Premier League meetings have ended 1-0 to City, who also won their FA Cup semi-final meeting at Wembley in April, with Riyad Mahrez scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory.
Paul Heckingbottom and his Sheffield United team have had a difficult start on their return to the Premier League. A rather limp showing in their opening-day 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at home was hardly a promising sign.
However, their performance away at Nottingham Forest was (eventually) much improved, even though they again lost. They started slowly, going a goal down to Taiwo Awoniyi’s header in just the third minute, and were quite lucky to only be 1-0 behind at half-time, having had just one shot in the first half at the City Ground.
They were much better in the second half, with Hamer’s equaliser one of six shots they managed after half-time. Unfortunately for Heckingbottom, they were unable to stop Wood’s 89th-minute winner for the hosts, but he’ll be hoping that improved second-half showing will have given his team some confidence.
That said, how confident can you be against a side that has lost just one league game since early February? Since losing at Tottenham, City have played 19 Premier League games, winning 16 and losing just one (D2), and that sole defeat came on the last day of last season, well after the title was already sewn up.
Guardiola’s treble winners have responded well to their penalty-shootout defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield, beating Burnley 3-0 away and Newcastle 1-0 at home in their first two league games, either side of beating Sevilla on penalties to lift the UEFA Super 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 on Sunday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Sheffield United vs Manchester City Prediction
To the surprise of nobody, Man City are the overwhelming favourites for this one. They may be without De Bruyne but their vast array of other talent makes them favourites against pretty much any opposition right now. The Opta supercomputer has handed them a 65.1% chance of making it three wins from three in the Premier League this season.
Sheffield United are therefore given a modest 12.4% likelihood of a shock win, but with the Bramall Lane crowd behind them, you can never discount the Yorkshire side completely.
The chance of a draw comes in at 22.5%, which seems unlikely on the face of it. City have drawn just two league games in 2023 (W19 L3), while none of Sheffield United’s last 26 Premier League matches have ended as a stalemate (W7 L19) since a 1-1 draw with Brighton in December 2020. The last team to have a longer run was Arsenal between February and October 2022 (27 games in a row).