Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces one of the most difficult tests in the Premier League with a trip to Bramall Lane to face the high-flying and defensively resolute Sheffield United.
Only Leicester City (8) have conceded less goals than Chris Wilder’s side this season (9).
The Blades have made an impressive start to life back in the top flight and went into the international break in 5th place with 17 points, one point better off than the Red Devils.
Manchester United will be coming up against a side that has amassed a joint-best 5 clean sheets in 12 Premier League matches.
Wilder’s team have already beaten Arsenal and got a point away to Stamford Bridge.
If it wasn’t for a rare and unwelcome howler from United loanee Dean Henderson, Liverpool wouldn’t have come away from Sheffield with all three points, and Leicester scored a late winner.
The Blades have only scored 13 goals, which is the lowest amount in the top 10.
Sunday’s clash isn’t going to be a free flowing open game like the matches against Brighton and Norwich, Solskjaer’s side are going to have to produce a top performance to come away with the three points.
Can’t have a Bournemouth repeat
United’s last away outing against Eddie Howe’s team was a familiar tale of one step forward, two steps back for Solskjaer’s side.
It was once again a performance that flattered to deceive and no clear cut chances were created.
There needs to be a significant rise in intensity and quality with the ball at our feet if we are going to come away from Sheffield with the win.
The opening stages will be frantic and United are going to have to earn the right to play, but most importantly we are going to have to showcase all our fighting qualities, come out on top in the personal battles and win the second balls.
Once we have the ball we have got to shift it quick, Wilder will set his team up to get in our faces and press us from the front, we cannot afford to get caught dawdling on the ball in our own half.
The hosts will not offer any space for Dan James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to run into.
However, our dynamic attacking trio have the ability to glide past players with ease, the big question will be whether they get enough supply.
We cannot afford to be timid on the ball, we need to be brave and take risks in the attacking areas, if the likes of James, Rashford and Martial are making darting runs in behind or producing clever explosive movements, they need to be unleashed.
If Andreas Pereira is deployed in the number 10 role he has got to make the right decision because chances in this match could be few and far between.
Perfect opportunity ahead of festive period
With a third of the season already completed, United need to use the upcoming festive run of fixtures to close the gap on the top four.
After 12 games, we have won four, drawn four and lost four, a winning streak is very much needed to reduce the 9 point deficit to Manchester City.
United’s best result of the season was without doubt the opening day drubbing of Chelsea.
There was cause for optimism after beating Leicester and coming close to ousting Liverpool, but a win away to Sheffield United could be United’s most important victory of the season.
A win could be the perfect springboard to replicate the run of form that we produced when Solskjaer took over the reigns in an interim role.
After back-to-back wins against Partizan and Brighton, which brought an array of attacking football, a defeat on Sunday would bring us back to square one.
With no international breaks until March, Solskjaer knows better anyone after his time under Sir Alex Ferguson that this period of the season is where Manchester United produce their best.
It’s time for United to make a statement, lets hope come Sunday evening we have made a positive one.
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