Sheffield Utd (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

After three months away, football at St James’ Park is finally set to return this Sunday – but not as we know it.

It will be odd to see an empty stadium and fake crowd noise filtered into our TV’s as we watch on Sky Sports from our sofas, however it will be welcome distraction from talk of a Saudi takeover – a saga that’s gone from extremely exciting to unbelievably exhausting.

Back to matters on the pitch, our first opponents come in the form of a high-flying Sheffield Utd side who must NOT be underestimated.

They looked flat and lacking in their usual levels of intensity and energy in their midweek draw at Villa Park, but with European qualification in sight and them still reeling from being robbed of a clear goal on Wednesday, I expect they’ll be bang up for this one and keen to get back on track.

For us, our last game saw us secure a big win at Southampton back in March, moving us 8 points clear of the bottom three. It felt significant and a huge step towards safety, but we’ll soon be dragged back into it if we allow complacency to creep in.

Predicted XI

(4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose – Hayden, Shelvey – Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.

At the back, Dubravka is fit again, with the three-month break allowing our undoubted player of the season a chance to fully recover from knee ligament damage suffered in our last league game.

He’ll be the first name on the team sheet, and looks likely to have Lascelles and Fernandez playing ahead of him, with the pair appearing to be Steve Bruce’s chosen partnership since reverting back to a four-man defence.

At right-back, Manquillo appears to be ahead of Yedlin in the pecking order and rightly so after several solid displays, while Rose is our only available left-back and will almost certainly start once again after extending his loan move from Spurs.

In midfield, Shelvey seems nailed on under Bruce and appears likely to be partnered by Hayden. Bentaleb featured in both training matches and scored a screamer in a behind-closed-doors game at St James’ Park a few weeks back, but he’s not done enough so far to earn a place in the starting 11 for me. As for the Longstaff’s, both have been nursing knocks, leaving Bruce with a limited number of midfield options ahead of this one.

Out wide, Saint-Maximin is nailed on starter and the man we’ll be hoping can unsettle a stubborn Sheffield Utd defence, while Almiron seems likely to play in a more favoured no.10 role once again should Bruce stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that showed signs of promise before the break. Who plays on our right is tougher to predict, however. Ritchie or Lazaro? Given Ritchie has a knock and the Lazaro was brilliant in his last start in a more advanced role at West Brom, I think we’ll see the latter make his first start at St James’ Park.

Finally, up top. Joelinton has scored in 2 of our 3 training matches players over the past fortnight and is being backed by Bruce to finish the season strongly. Hopefully he can benefit from the break, the lack of pressure from fans and a 4-2-3-1 system that allows us to get more bodies up in support of him. Gayle got the nod in our last outing at St Mary’s, but he missed a boat load of big chances that day and seems to have yet another knock, while Carroll is fit again but most likely to be used as an impact sub after several months out.

The Opposition

Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Chris Wilder’s Blades side:

Dean Henderson – The Man Utd loanee has been outstanding this season, keeping 11 clean sheets and being one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers across 2019/20.

Stevens / Baldock – The two marauding full-backs that give width to this solid yet adventurous Sheffield Utd side. Hopefully our pacey wide men can push them back and get in behind – not spend most of the game defending their forward runs!

John Fleck – The man who makes them tick and Wilder’s midfield dynamo. The diminutive Scot has impressed this season, pulling the strings in the middle and weighing in with 5 goals – making him their joint top scorer.

John Lundstram – A powerful runner with an impressive engine who’s made a habit of making good runs into the box this season.

Team news

While the likes of Martin Dubravka have had time to get back to full fitness over the three month break, there’s a few who’ve gone the other way.

Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle both started in our last Premier League game at Southampton back in March, but both are doubts for Sunday.

Both Longstaff’s have knocks and are almost certainly out after failing to feature in our last two training games, while Florian Lejeune also looks set to miss out after picking up an injury in our 2-0 win over Hull last weekend.

Paul Dummett is ineligible, being out of our 25-man squad, and the game also looks set to come too soon for Ciaran Clark, who is training again but not expected to be deemed match fit.

For the Blades, joint top scorer John Fleck and first choice centre-back Jack O’Connell could return after missing out in their 0-0 draw at Villa.

David McGoldrick is also expected to be passed fit, despite limping off in midweek.

Prediction

The Blades have only lost ONCE away from home all season – and that was a 2-0 defeat at Anfield 6 months ago – highlighting just how tough they are to beat on their travels.

You’d fancy us when comparing the two sides on paper, but their mean away record and lofty league position have us coming in as the underdogs with the bookies, and we’d do well to remember that.

If we aren’t up for it or look unfit or half-hearted in comparison then I’d expect them to do a job on us, as they have done on many sides before this season.

That said, they did look rusty and lacking in their usual adventurous style and intensity in their 0-0 draw at Villa in midweek, so the fact this is their second game in 4 days could play into our hands.

A win would be brilliant, but I think we might have to settle for a point here in a game where two stubborn defences could come out on top.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Sheffield Utd

HWTL!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

69 thoughts on “Sheffield Utd (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. Olly: I picked the same team as you earlier in the week but I have changed my mind. I think Brucie will go 4-3-3 with Benteleb in the 3 with Shelvey and Hayden. Lazaro will drop to the bench. That gives us a fluid front 3 of St Max, Joe and Miggy.

    I just think that Bruce will not go so attacking with 4 wingers against a high press team. From what we have seen all season he is a very cagey coach so 4 wingers will not work for him. He will want that defensive shield for a back 4 now that he has switched from a back 5. Benteleb will start I think.

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  2. Eric, think you could well be right about Bentalab. Also I have no problem with Manquillo being ahead of Yedlin as i think Manquillo is a much better defender, Yedlin gets forward well but is poor defensively for me.

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  3. I have absurdly no idea where to start when trying to evaluate this game given the unusual circumstances. A draw would be likely I imagine.

    Worryingly though, before the Southampton game we hadn’t won in five and hadn’t scored. Another run like that and we’re in a pickle potentially.

    Hoping the lack of fans will make it easier for Joelinton and maybe he is one of these training ground players so who knows…

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  4. Hi folks.

    Would appreciate your support on a little project I’ve been working on with a Newcastle United Academy in Sierra Leone. They do their best, running a fan club and team for U-12 and U-14 children in the area who all come from underprivileged backgrounds, but they need our support.

    Please read the article below and donate if you can 🙂

    Article: https://www.nufcblog.co.uk/2020/06/18/newcastle-united-sierra-leone-the-inspirational-west-african-academy-that-needs-our-help/

    Go Fund Me page: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-newcastle-united-sierra-leone

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  5. Olly Hawkins:
    Hi folks.

    Would appreciate your support on a little project I’ve been working on with a Newcastle United Academy in Sierra Leone. They do their best, running a fan club and team for U-12 and U-14 children in the area who all come from underprivileged backgrounds, but they need our support.

    Please read the article below and donate if you can

    Article: https://www.nufcblog.co.uk/2020/06/18/newcastle-united-sierra-leone-the-inspirational-west-african-academy-that-needs-our-help/

    Go Fund Me page: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-newcastle-united-sierra-leone

    Read it Olly, thanks for go fund link.

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  6. This is a small point but all of the clubs have decorated the lower tiers of their grounds with some ads and also links to club websites etc. Watford raided the club shop and had club scarves and shirts on some seats. What about us? All the staff have been furloughed except a few. Would Fatty have Charnley and Nickson putting up extra Sports Direct ads? Its not like him to miss an opportunity to push his tat shops but we have no staff.

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  7. Another game at Watford where the CV-19 prevention seems totally arbitrary. The stewards are standing there talking to each other. The coaches and medics are all on the sidelines chatting, most without masks. But the subs are sitting a few seats apart.

    I said on the last thread that stats in the US show that 80% of deaths from CV-19 have been over 65s and 40% in nursing homes. Tells you a bit about the risks for the rest of us but there seems to have been a mish mash of different guidance from Govts. Over here there are different rules for just about every state and the Orange Man Baby now just seems to be ignoring the whole issue even though he has “been in charge” as the economy has tanked and unemployment has reached 20% (temporarily).

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  8. It may seem that I am fixating on Covid-19 but that is because of how it has affected all of our lives. I have hardly been out in 3 months on the advice of the Illinois Governor. Now Trump is holding a 19,000 people rally in an indoor conference centre against the advice of the task force of Drs that HE set up. It is a total shambles and 40 million people are now on the dole in the US not knowing if they can pay their mortgage or rent.

    You add in the Cummings stupidity and it has been a joke on both sides of the Atlantic. It is not like there were not previous deadly viruses that should have given notice to govts on what to do. Spanish Flu and SARS to name just 2.

    Chicago has been relatively successful in containing the virus, but at what cost and should younger and healthy people really have been forced to stay inside for 3 bloody months? I don’t think they (we) should have. It should have been 2 tiered with the elderly and those with serious medical condition told to self isolate and the rest of us left to get on with our lives. There was no plan for this which is a travesty and not many people are calling the Governments and so-called experts out on it.

    Rant over.

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  9. kimtoon: Read it Olly, thanks for go fund link.

    Thanks mate, and thanks again for the donation!

    Hope you guys are able to share the link on social media and donate if possible. It’s a great cause 🙂

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  10. Also Prem: if that expert is right it doesn’t look good for the resumption of football with spectators as he says that puts everybody at risk and this will continue until at least 2021.

    Against my better judgement I have been watching some Cable TV news. Today they are showing the lines to get into the Trump rally which is in a confined indoor space. It seems like the perfect storm for infection, according to this expert, as about 75% are elderly and/or obese. The Orange Man Baby doesn’t seem to care though because he knows that is his demographic.

    Hopefully the football will get better. I have watched all of the games so far and they have been pretty boring. Maybe I am imagining it because of the lack of atmosphere, but they have seemed a bit sterile.

    I think a win tomorrow would make us safe.

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  11. Noticed that PC cameras on skype or zoom dont do anybody any favours in terms of how they look (or sound a lot of the time). Brucie looks particularly bad on the latest picture on this site.

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  12. West Ham are in trouble now. There seems to be a narrative with their fanboy media crowd that they are too good to go down. Last time I really heard that was NUFC – when we went down 🙂

    Their next games are Spurs, Chelsea and the MIghty NUFC.

    They spent quite a bit of money but I am not sure what they got for it. I know Sharpy might disagree but I am not sure if Jarrod Bowen will be their savior. He could turn out to be a good player but he is stepping up from The Championship and you never know how that will turn out. We have a player who is a superstar in The Championship and struggles in the PL – Dwight Gayle.

    Then there is Declan Rice. I just dont see why there is all this hype about him. Touted as a 70 million pound player before CV-19. What am I missing?

    Of course they have Dour Dave. He kept them up once but his attitude and demeaner can get extremely negative. Ask a Mackem. He almost assumed they were getting relegated. It was painful to watch his body language on the sideline.

    Finally, there are their fans. Despite about as much success as us in the last 50 years their fanboy media pals have ingrained in them a sense of entitlement. When they turn, they get angry and that is not helped by their dislike of the owners. As long as we are safe, what will probably please me the most is if this does turn into a slow motion car wreck for West Ham.

    I would be happy for Villa to go down as well, mainly because it would make Kimtoon happy 🙂 I dont really care about them.

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  13. Oh, and I am worried that none of the 3 stooges – Owen, Nicholas and Lawro – predict a loss. I know I am being fatalistic but that usually guarantees a loss.

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  14. Eric Sykes:
    Oh, and I am worried that none of the 3 stooges – Owen, Nicholas and Lawro – predict a loss. I know I am being fatalistic but that usually guarantees a loss.

    indeed it does mate

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  15. We’ll be ok. I predict a 1-1 draw. Another Shelvey goal. That looks like a pretty solid lineup. Here’s hoping wor Joe plays well to give him confidence.

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  16. I am going to lay off the Politics after this, but…

    This is a great day for America and the world. The Orange Man Baby held a rally tonight where they expected 60,000 people and my guess in looking at the TV is that they got 6,000. His criminal rule of tyranny and deception is done. I am now certain he will not be re-elected but it will probably take a decade or more to fix the damage he has done. In terms of causing anger and division he is Nigel Farage times 10. One thing they have in common is that all they care about is themselves.

    As I said, I am sure he is done now. The country has turned on him. Be careful Boris if you continue to align yourself with this fraud, charlatan and bully.

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  17. I see PIF have purchased shares in BT yet the PL can’t even agree to them buying a football club… PL are looking utterly shambolic at the moment.

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  18. Stuart79:
    I see PIF have purchased shares in BT yet the PL can’t even agree to them buying a football club… PL are looking utterly shambolic at the moment.

    I think they are hoping we get relegated then it’s not their decision to make, or hoping the buyers get fed up of waiting and walk away maybe.

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  19. Also, if Stavely loses her court case how does that impact us ? Didn’t jabba lend her that £17m against her winning that case ?

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  20. I see Saudi’s dept of intellectual property has announced its clamping down on 231 illegal websites that stream pirated programmes… 👀

    I think the PL will approve it and say Saudi Arabia have agreed to do all they can to stop the illegal streaming of BeIN sports. Win win.

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  21. Stuart79:
    I see Saudi’s dept of intellectual property has announced its clamping down on 231 illegal websites that stream pirated programmes…

    I think the PL will approve it and say Saudi Arabia have agreed to do all they can to stop the illegal streaming of BeIN sports. Win win.

    lets hope so

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  22. Looking forward to finally watching the Toon again. Free to view on Pick! Given Sheffield’s position, I’ll take a draw, but really a win will make us so much more comfortable in the league! 🤞🤞 2-1 to us!

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  23. Eric Sykes:
    I am going to lay off the Politics after this, but…

    This is a great day for America and the world. The Orange Man Baby held a rally tonight where they expected 60,000 people and my guess in looking at the TV is that they got 6,000. His criminal rule of tyranny and deception is done. I am now certain he will not be re-elected but it will probably take a decade or more to fix the damage he has done. In terms of causing anger and division he is Nigel Farage times 10. One thing they have in common is that all they care about is themselves.

    As I said, I am sure he is done now. The country has turned on him. Be careful Boris if you continue to align yourself with this fraud, charlatan and bully.

    The beauty of free speech and democracy, Eric. He’s a buffoon and democratically he will either get what he deserves whether you or I agree with him or not.

    As for Boris. He needs to follow his own instincts. Forget the nonsense that he’s been listening to and act on his instincts as they have stiff him in good stead historically.

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  24. At 22 mins. We are playing pretty well.

    Commentator here said the average points needed to stay up is 37.

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  25. Brucie is doing something different with Almiron playing off Joe and St Max and Ritchie allowed to swap wings.

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  26. Half Time: we have been the better team. All they seem to have is set pieces. Ref giving fouls to them for every niggle. We have to cut that out.

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  27. Eric Sykes:
    Half Time: we have been the better team. All they seem to have is set pieces. Ref giving fouls to them for every niggle. We have to cut that out.

    That ref has officiated in 7 of their games and they have won everyone one .

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  28. getinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
    St Maxiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

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  29. It is NUFC so I am always nervous, but that was pretty easy. Safe now. As I said earlier the average points needed to be safe in the PL has been 37 and we are on 38.

    Happy for Bruce even though I still think he should be sacked. He seems a genuine bloke. Wish he hadn;t put us through the appalling football for most of the season but hopefully we can push on. Give Villa a tonking. Only negative would be there will be none of their fans there for us to get payback on if we win.

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  30. 3-0… excellent result for us. St. Max was fantastic and I thought Shelvey had a great game too. Rose was totally shi.te! What a rubbish buy he was… great second half and finally Joelinton scores…

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  31. Joelinton had a really good game apart from that miss. He actually had some support for once as we had moved away from the 9-0-1 system. Still needs more confidence, but there were signs that there is actually a player there. His teammates and Manager seem to like him and want him to do well.

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  32. How can you have a 2 minute drinks break and then have only 1 minute of additional time in the 1st half?

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