Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
The dynamic as we head into this match is fascinating. Generally speaking, a match between Sheffield United and Manchester United would see the home team as clear underdogs, and most of the press would be surrounding how this plays into Man United’s overall Premier League chances. However, Sheffield have proven themselves utterly unpredictable this tournament.
Just take a look at their track record this season. If you threw a three-sided dice for each game, you’d probably come out with similar looking results. And that’s not to downplay their achievements, as Sheffield have fought off some fierce competition over these last few months. They looked strong against the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and even league leaders Liverpool.
Manchester United, on the other hand, had an awful start to the season in which they only just look like they are beginning to recover from, with a respectable draw against Liverpool and wins over Chelsea and Brighton.
Sheffield United vs Manchester United Prediction: Sheffield United 1-1 Man United
This is a tough one to predict because both these teams have been so hard to call all season. Right now though, they are both on upward trajectories and will be well aware of how badly a loss like this could affect their momentum. Sheffield United have good form against top teams as of late, even besting Arsenal. Meanwhile, Manchester United have looked much improved following their rock-bottom performance against Newcastle, with the exception of a shock loss to Bournemouth. We think we’ll see a passionate game but one where each is more concerned about not losing than winning. For that reason, our scoreline prediction is a 1-1 stalemate.
Our recommended tip: Marcus Rashford scores first
While Manchester United’s comeback from the very edges of the relegation zone has definitely been a team effort, there’s little doubt that Marcus Rashford deserves extra credit for his role in the mini renaissance. With the importance of this game then – it really feels like they are on the cusp of truly getting back into the tournament – we once again expect him in a starring role. Considering that he also scored first against Chelsea and Liverpool, Rashford for first goalscorer is our recommended tip, with 888Sport offering competitive 5/1 odds.
Although we settled for the draw, we think that a lot of bookmakers, who have Manchester firmly as favourites, have underestimated Sheffield here. If we had to pick a favourite, we’d probably go with Manchester, but only by a touch. However, their head-to-head history may explain why many don’t rate Sheffield’s chances. They last bested Manchester back in 1993, meaning there has been over a quarter of a century and seven games of losses. Still, the only contest recent enough to be truly relevant was in 2016, and Manchester only won by a single goal. So, that stat is perhaps not quite as dire as it initially seems.
Top 3 Premier League Bookies
Players to watch: John Fleck & Marcus Rashford
Sheffield United: John Fleck
Often underrated by columnists, John Fleck might not grab headlines like some other players, but he makes up for that by being absolutely sensational on the pitch. Crucially, he is at his best against top teams, as we saw against Arsenal and Liverpool. If he can knock out a performance of that calibre here, Manchester are in for a fight.
Manchester United: Marcus Rashford
This may be the obvious choice considering that we have Rashford down for first goalscorer. But we honestly couldn’t go with anyone else considering how absolutely vital he’s been to United’s regurgence in the last couple of months. There’s rarely a positive Premier League performance by Manchester United that doesn’t have him in contendership for man of the match. First goal or no first goal, Rashford is one to watch.