MX23RW : Monday, September 20 12:40:04| >> :60:402:402:
Dec 29, 2019 at 6pm UK at Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 54,512
Man CityManchester City
Sheff UtdSheffield United
Aguero (52'), De Bruyne (82')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Manchester City vs. Sheffield United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Manchester City welcome Sheffield United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday looking to bounce back from their latest defeat in a disappointing campaign.

The champions threw away a two-goal lead to lose against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday and must now try to recover within 48 hours for the visit of surprise package Sheffield United.

Match preview

Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Manchester United on December 7, 2019© Reuters

Not even the most ardent Sheffield United fan would have expected their side to have lost fewer games than Man City at the halfway point of the season, but that is the situation they find themselves in heading into Sunday's contest.

Both teams have experienced surprising campaigns in different ways, with Sheffield United making a mockery of their status as pre-season relegation favourites and Man City getting nowhere near the pace set by Liverpool.

The defeat to Wolves was their fifth of the season in the league already, leaving them 14 points adrift of Liverpool having played a game more than the team which now looks destined to take the top-flight crown off them.

Liverpool have admittedly set a standard which is nigh-on impossible to live with, but Man City have fallen short of their own benchmark and have already dropped more points in the first half of this season than they did throughout the whole of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.

The latest loss did have mitigating circumstances, not least having Ederson sent off after only 12 minutes, but to have surrendered a 2-0 lead would have angered Pep Guardiola, particularly as it was surely the final nail in the coffin for their title challenge.

Manchester City's Claudio Bravo reacts after Wolverhampton Wanderers' Raul Jimenez scores their second goal on December 27, 2019© Reuters

Man City saw only 37.8% of the ball in that defeat - the lowest any Guardiola side has ever registered during his managerial career - and being forced to play with 10 men for the vast majority of the match will do nothing to help the fatigue which is bound to occur with two games in less than 48 hours.

In general Man City have bounced back quickly from previous setbacks under Guardiola, not losing successive matches since Boxing Day of last year.

The champions are also unbeaten in their last 37 home league games against promoted opposition, a run which stretches back to 2007 and includes 33 wins, while they have only lost their final league game of a calendar year once in the last 18 years.

However, City look a lot more vulnerable this season than they have for much of the Guardiola reign, and that will encourage a Sheffield United side that has surpassed all expectations so far this term.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder on December 8, 2019© Reuters

Chris Wilder's side head into the weekend sitting seventh in the Premier League table, only three points off the Champions League places at the midway point of the campaign.

The Blades are very much there on merit too, losing just once in their last 12 games in a run which stretches back to September. By contrast, Man City have lost four times in the same period.

That record will be severely tested either side of the New Year with successive away games against Man City and Liverpool, but it is on the road where they have been the most impressive this term.

Indeed, Sheffield United are unbeaten in their last 18 away league games since January, with only the top four having picked up more points on their travels in the top flight and only Liverpool having conceded fewer goals.

Should the Blades avoid defeat on Sunday then they would equal Burnley's 72-year record for the longest away unbeaten run from the start of a top-flight season for a promoted team, with again only Liverpool also able to boast an unblemished record on the road.

Sheffield United's Lys Mousset celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on November 24, 2019© Reuters

United's difficult run extends beyond New Year's Day, with Arsenal and then Man City again to come in their next five league games, but so impressive have they been this season that they will go into just about every game believing that they can win.

Wilder's side are already only three wins and a draw away from the magic 40-point mark and so their minds can begin drifting away from merely survival for the second half of the season, with the prospect of Europe becoming more realistic by the week.

A positive result against Man City would help to prove that they could hold their own in continental competition, having already pushed Liverpool all the way this term.

Wilder will not allow his players to think that far ahead just yet, but if they become the latest team to take points off the champions then it would be a perfect end to a memorable year for the club.

Man City Premier League form: DWLWWL
Man City form (all competitions): LWWWWL

Sheffield United Premier League form: DLWWWD

Team News

Manchester City's Ederson walks after he is shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson on December 27, 2019© Reuters

Man City will be without the suspended Ederson following his red card against Wolves, meaning that Claudio Bravo is set to deputise between the sticks.

Sergio Aguero was the man sacrificed after Ederson's dismissal, which does at least mean that he should be fresh to start again in this one with doubt still lingering over Gabriel Jesus as he battles illness.

David Silva and John Stones will be assessed ahead of the match as they near returns from the injuries which have kept both players sidelined since the Manchester derby earlier this month.

Other changes are almost guaranteed considering this will be Man City's second match in less than 48 hours, and Sheffield United are also likely to consider rotation.

Lys Mousset is one of the players who will be hopeful of a start, with Simon Moore the only injury doubt for Wilder.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden; Bernardo, Aguero, Sterling

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, Mousset

Head To Head

These two sides have not met in any competition since January 2008, when Sheffield United beat Man City in the FA Cup.

The Blades have never beaten Man City in the Premier League, though, drawing three and losing three of their six such meetings including a 1-0 home defeat in the most recent one.

Sheffield United have failed to even score in their last seven away league visits to City, with five of the last six finishing goalless and Man City winning the other 6-0.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Man City 2-0 Sheffield United

Sheffield United have been so impressive that it would not be a huge surprise if they managed to get something from this game, particularly considering Man City's extra-quick turnaround from a tiring Wolves defeat. However, Guardiola's side tend to bounce back quickly from setbacks and so we are backing them to return to winning ways once again in this one.

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder on December 8, 2019
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4Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton540174312
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7Tottenham HotspurSpurs530236-39
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham522111748
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14Crystal Palace512258-35
16Wolverhampton WanderersWolves510425-33
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