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Manchester City vs Sheffield United: 30/01/2021 – match preview & predicted starting XIs

Manchester City vs Sheffield United

Date: 30/01/2021

Time: 15:00

Venue: Etihad Stadium

Referee: David Coote

TV: Sky Sports

Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United side travel to the other half of Manchester on Saturday, having beaten the Red Devils, and securing – at least temporarily – a place in the hearts of City fans worldwide. Whether that sentiment continues or is reversed will, of course, be determined by their display over the weekend.

Another Sheffield victory in Manchester would absolutely reinvigorate the title race, especially given Liverpool’s statement win over Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night, but a win for the hosts would see them pull away from the chasing pack just a tad.

Pep Guardiola is no stranger to the brick wall that Chris Wilder’s Sheffield can and have put up in the past; the 2-0 City win in this fixture last season was anything but comfortable, with the away victory coming after another very intense battle. That being said, although City are missing a few key players, their superstars are rising to the occasion to cover the absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Kun Aguero. While it would be quite short-sighted to predict a comfortable City win, the home side are indeed the favourites to walk away with all three points.

Guardiola’s side were at their creative best away to West Brom in a 5-0 thrashing that marked Phil Foden’s 100th City appearance. Ilkay Gundogan put in a performance that effectively should seal the leagues Player of the Month debate and Joao Cancelo exhibited exactly why he’s been one of the leagues best fullback this season. Ruben Dias, John Stones and Ederson touched 1,000 minutes together without conceding and Bernardo Silva looked much more like his 18/19 self. They’ll be hoping their assistant manager from that season, now commanding Arsenal’s dugout, will be able to do them a solid and restrict 2nd placed Manchester United to a point or less when they come knocking at the Emirates Stadium the same day.

While Sheffield’s victory was only their second of the season, it was their second in their last three games. They are still, unfortunately, rock bottom, but if there’s ever a time to commence their own version of the Great Escape, it would be now. They presently sit 10 points from safety, but only three behind West Bromwich Albion, who they play immediately after City. A victory over City would give some real momentum going into their games with the Baggies, and Thomas Tuchel’s new Chelsea side after that, while Brighton in 17th face Spurs and Liverpool in their next two. While it would seem unlikely, this is the Premier League, and it’s the most open title race we’re seeing since Leicester’s miracle run.

Team News

Manchester City

Sergio Aguero is resting in the hope that a negative test can facilitate him coming back to training, as per The Athletic’s City correspondent, Sam Lee. The Argentine has barely featured for City this entire season but will be a huge, huge boost to them as they look to combat a very tough spell of fixtures to follow. Nathan Ake continues to battle his injury and will not be available for the weekend. Kevin De Bruyne will be out for the next few weeks.

Sheffield United

Sander Berge is unavailable, following an operation on his tendon. Oliver McBurnie, Jack Robinson, Ben Osbourne and Enda Steven have also been ruled out with injuries. Jack O’Connell suffered a setback in his recovery, with Chris Wilder mentioning that they would have to “be really careful” with easing him back into action once he’s ready. In some better news for the Blades, John Egan returns from his suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Predicted Starting XIs

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Ampadu; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Bogle; McGoldrick, Sharp

Score Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Sheffield United

I believe that City’s momentum is far too good at the moment for them to slip up against Sheffield United. While Sheffield definitely pose a threat on the counter, Dias and Stones have been more than equal to the task, and with the attack firing as a very cohesive unit at the moment, I believe Sheffield’s resistance should be broken by Gundogan and Co.

Ayush Verma

20. Student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Manchester City correspondent for 90MAAT

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