Manchester United play Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Thursday night.

It’s fair to say that encounter may look different from United’s last away match with the Blades 13 months ago.

That game ended in a rollercoaster 3-3 draw. United were outplayed for large period and fell 2-0 down, rallied to lead before Oli McBurnie’s late equaliser.

Chris Wilder’s side are winless and rock bottom of the Premier League, while United’s lineup will show some major changes since last November – and not just the arrival of Bruno Fernandes.

(Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Phil Jones

United played a back three in this fixture last year, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly keen to match up Wilder’s 3-5-2 system.

That meant Solskjaer introduced another centre half to his starting eleven and Phil Jones got the nod with Axel Tuanzebe not fit to play.

Solskjaer emphasised the importance of a fast start in his pre-match interview, but Jones was absolutely caught cold and exposed on a number of occasions.

It was 1-0 at half time, but could have been worse as the pace of Lys Mousset troubled Jones throughout the opening period.

The Englishman was hooked at half time and has only made one further Premier League appearance since. A 2-0 home loss to Burnley which was another night to forget.

The last trip to Bramall Lane was one of Jones’ final chances and he blew it.

Sheffield United v Manchester United - Premier League
(Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Other changes

Solskjaer also started Andreas Pereira in a deep midfield role alongside Fred.


Not too surprisingly, he was physically dominated by Johns Fleck and Lundstram as well as former United academy graduate Oliver Norwood.

United were ripped apart in the centre of the pitch, but that shouldn’t happen again on Thursday.

Scott McTominay is Fred’s most likely partner this time around. Donny van de Beek is still waiting for a run in the side but he’d have been a guaranteed starter at the time when Pereira was the best United could offer in midfield.

Brandon Williams and Dan James also started, which is unlikely to be the case on Thursday.

Whichever United side Solskjaer picks this week should represent a major step up in quality from 13 months ago.

First Premier League goals

Williams and Mason Greenwood did net their first Premier League goals in that stirring comeback.

The defender smashed home to spark the revival on 72 minutes, before Greenwood prodded in an equaliser from close range just five minutes later.

Of the pair, Greenwood has done the better job of establishing himself in Solskjaer’s plans since – but last season’s match was an important step for both players.

With Sheffield United far less dangerous now than they were then and Solskjaer’s side rampant on the road this season, Thursday’s match should be more comfortable than last term’s rollercoaster.

Plenty more has also changed since then.

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