Preview: Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur, Bramall Lane at 6pm
Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) we will be facing the new boys Sheffield United. We last fought them on the 9 November, last year, and only managed a draw. This time around we’ve got to go one better if we want any chance of challenging for a Champions League place. Of course, even if we do well, we are still reliant on the other teams above us to trip up.
I am going for a win, say, 2-1. I would generally go higher, but with Mourinho in charge, he will probably be looking at sitting on a lead once we get it.
After this game, we’ve got Everton and Bournemouth before taking on Arsenal at our ground. All winnable and all games we MUST do well in to have any chance of getting out of Europa League football and into the more grown-up competition. Let us leave Europa for the likes of Wolves, Everton and lowly Arsenal. But then again if Arsenal doesn’t make that competition, we would be quite happy. In fact, we would be quite happy if they got relegated, but that is a wish that should be said at bedtime before one has had a pee, washed their hands and then knelt down and said a prayer or two.
Before we go into tomorrow’s game, there is a bit of news about Eric Dier.
The club want to offer Eric Dier a new contract, says manager Jose Mourinho. His contract is due to expire at the end of next season. “My boss Mr Levy tells me that he wants Eric to sign a new contract. Eric tells me that he is more than happy here,” said the smiling Mourinho. He then add, “I hope that they can find an agreement because I am taking the team in a certain direction.”
Eric Dier, as everybody knows, has played in central defence, his favoured position, in the teams first two matches since the Premier League restart following the coronavirus outbreak. Contrast that with Mauricio Pochettino handling of Dier; he regularly used Dier as a defensive midfielder.
Our man Dier joined Tottenham under the stewardship of Pochettino for £4m from Sporting Lisbon in 2014, has scored 10 goals in 171 league games. But if any deal is to be done, it will be done under the terms of Levy, and as we know, he won’t be held hostage. Eric Dier is still at a good age (26) and turning into 27 in January. Still young. Mourinho has always been an admirer of his and wanted him to play for one of his clubs, but couldn’t get him (mainly because he joined Spurs).
There is uncertainty whether Midfielder John Lundstram will play because of a shoulder injury, which forced him off against Arsenal on Sunday. Their defender Jack O’Connell is nearing a return after sitting out all four of their matches (knee injury).
Jose Mourinho is still without Japhet Tanganga and Juan Foyth.
Apart from that he has a full squad.
United are unbeaten in their past five top-flight home games against Spurs, dating back to December 1975 (W3, D2).
Paul Stewart and Paul Gascoigne scored Spurs’ goals in their most recent victory at Bramall Lane in the fourth round of the League Cup in November 1990.
There has not been an away victory in any of the seven Premier League meetings.
Sheffield United have lost three matches in a row in all competitions for only the second time since Chris Wilder’s appointment in 2016.
Having conceded three or more goals in just one of their first 29 Premier League games this season, they have lost their last two by a 3-0 scoreline.
Those defeats came after a run of 80 consecutive matches in all competitions without losing by more than two goals.
Nonetheless, only Liverpool and Leicester City had conceded fewer top-flight goals than Sheffield United’s 31 after 31 matches of this campaign. The fewest Premier League goals conceded by a promoted club in a season is 41 by Newcastle in 1993-94.
The Blades have not won any of their 10 league matches this season against teams who began this round of fixtures above them in the table.
We are guaranteed to finish on fewer than 70 points for the first time since Mauricio Pochettino’s debut season in 2014-15.
After winning 11 of their opening 13 Premier League away matches last season, they have since won just three of 21.
Spurs’ only clean sheet in their last 22 away league matches was in a 0-0 draw at Watford on 18 January.
However, they are unbeaten in 23 Premier League away games against newly-promoted teams since losing to QPR in April 2012.
The last time they played a competitive match in July ended in a club-record 8-0 defeat by Cologne in the 1995 Intertoto Cup.
So, that’s it, folks! Until next, enjoy and let’s get behind the team.
By Glenn Renshaw