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Dec 26, 2019 at 3pm UK at Bramall Lane
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Preview: Sheffield United vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Premier League clash between Sheffield United and Watford, including team news and predicted lineups.

Watford will be looking to build on their excellent result against Manchester United when they travel to high-flying Sheffield United on Boxing Day.

The Hornets overcame United on Sunday afternoon to record just their second Premier League win of the season, and the league's basement side will now take on a Sheffield United team that are fifth in the table with 28 points from 18 matches this term.

Match preview

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

Sheffield United have arguably been the story of the 2019-20 Premier League season thus far. Tipped to struggle by many, the Blades have instead collected 28 points from 18 matches to sit in fifth position in the table. They are only four points off fourth-placed Chelsea, while they are 13 points above the bottom three.

Only Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City and Liverpool have lost fewer league matches than Sheffield United (4) this term. Meanwhile, they have the third-best defensive record in the league behind Liverpool and Leicester at this stage having conceded just 16 goals.

Since suffering a surprise 2-0 home loss to Newcastle United on December 5, the Blades have recorded three straight wins over Norwich City, Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion, conceding just once during that run.

Chris Wilder's team have arguably the two toughest matches on the Premier League calendar after this clash, though, as they travel to Manchester City and Liverpool on December 29 and January 2 respectively.

As a result, the home side will be even more determined to put another three points on the board against a Watford team who have improved in recent games.

Watford's Ismaila Sarr scores against Manchester United in the Premier League on December 22, 2019© Reuters

The Hornets were impressive in their 2-0 loss at Liverpool on December 14 before, as mentioned, picking up a 2-0 win over United on Sunday afternoon. Two goals in the early stages of the second half secured the victory for the Hertfordshire side, who took advantage of the away team's problems.

It was the perfect start for Nigel Pearson at Vicarage Road, but the new head coach called for calm after the clash and certainly will not have allowed his players to become complacent in the buildup to kickoff.

Watford remain bottom of the table, but they are now within six points of 17th-placed Southampton rather than nine, and another positive result on Boxing Day would only grow the new-found confidence among the supporters.

It will be just the fourth Premier League match between these two teams, and Watford are yet to triumph, losing two and drawing one of their previous three, with the points being shared at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Sheffield United Premier League form: DDLWWW

Watford Premier League form: LLLDLW

Team News

John Fleck pictured for Sheffield United in September 2019© Reuters

Sheffield United's first-team squad is in extremely good shape at the moment, meaning that Wilder has a number of selection dilemmas.

Oli McBurnie was on the scoresheet against Brighton last time out, but Lys Mousset could come back into the attack for this match alongside David McGoldrick.

John Fleck, who has created more chances than any other Blades player in the Premier League this season, is also expected to replace Luke Freeman in the middle of the park after serving a suspension, although it is otherwise set to be the same XI that took to the field against the Seagulls.

As for Watford, Abdoulaye Doucoure is suspended after picking up his fifth booking against United, while Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Sebastian Prodl, Daryl Janmaat and Jose Holebas are all still injured.

Pearson could ultimately decide to make just the one change to the side that started at the weekend, with Nathaniel Chalobah pushing to replace Doucoure, although Roberto Pereyra is the more experienced option.

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

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Mariappa, Cathcart, Kabasele, Femenia; Hughes, Capoue, Chalobah; Sarr, Deeney, Deulofeu

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We say: Sheffield United 1-0 Watford

It could prove to be a very tricky afternoon for Sheffield United, with Watford expected to be full of confidence following their strong result at the weekend. That said, we still expect the in-form Blades to pick up all three points courtesy of a narrow success.


Who will win Thursday's Premier League clash between Sheffield United and Watford?

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New Watford boss Nigel Pearson on December 14, 2019
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Nigel Pearson brushes off significance of previous great escapes
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