Manchester City vs Sheffield United

Manchester City’s Premier League title defense faces a relatively straightforward challenge as they entertain rock-bottom Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium.

Fresh of being crowned the FIFA Club World Cup champions courtesy of a 4-0 thrashing of Copa Libertadores holders Fluminense, Manchester City pulled off a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Everton upon their Premier League return. After overcoming a rotten six-game form league patch (W1, D4, L1) and closing the gap on table-topping Liverpool to five points with a game in hand, Man City’s bid to become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive league titles is back on track. Pep Guardiola’s men come into this game in a buoyant mood, knowing they’ve not conceded a goal in competitive home action against Sheffield United since 1991. Since then, they’ve shut the ‘Blades’ out in ten consecutive home H2Hs, though it’s worth noting that half of those clashes ended 0-0 (W5).

Newly-promoted Sheffield United at least troubled the scoresheet in the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane in August but still lost that meeting 2-1. Nailed to the bottom of the standings as the only side yet to hit double digits in the Premier League this term, the ‘Blades’ languish seven points adrift of safety. The board’s last-ditch attempt to turn United’s fortunes around by sacking Paul Heckingbottom and bringing Chris Wilder back earlier in December has yet to pay dividends. Despite equaling his predecessor’s haul of one win in 14 games in his first four matches in charge (W1, D1, L2), Wilder has failed to plug United’s defensive holes. The visitors have conceded a league-high 47 goals this term, which spells trouble ahead of their trip to the Etihad.

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