Sheffield United vs. Leeds United
Venue: Bramall Lane
Kick off: 12PM
For the first time since May 2001, the Premier League plays host to a Yorkshire derby this afternoon when Sheffield United welcome Leeds United to Bramall Lane.
The Blades are yet to get off the mark in terms of points or goals so far this season, whereas Leeds have had no shortage of goals and picked up their first Premier League win since April 2004 last time out.
Say what you will about Leeds’ return to the top flight – it has been entertaining so far.
Back-to-back 4-3 scorelines – one which went against them and one which went for them – have ensured that their much-anticipated Premier League comeback has been an explosive one, with promising signs in attack but plenty of concerns defensively too.
The 14 goals from those two games is the most for a top-flight team’s opening two outings since Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1962-63, and should there be four or more goals in this weekend’s game then it would break the Premier League record for the highest-scoring first three fixtures of a single team’s season.
Furthermore, Leeds are the first top-flight side to have both scored seven and conceded seven in their first two outings since Liverpool in 1932-33.
Not all of these statistics will be pleasant reading for meticulous manager Marcelo Bielsa, but what he will be pleased about is the three points which now sit next to their name following last weekend’s victory over fellow promoted side Fulham.
One can only imagine the noise which would have greeted the occasion had Elland Road been full for Leeds’ first home game in the Premier League in 16 years, particularly as they stormed into a 4-1 lead before holding on for the points.
The signing of Spain international defender Diego Llorente this week should help to tighten things up at the back, and if they can do that while continuing such a threat going forward then that is a recipe for success this season.
Sheffield United could not be further from Leeds in that regard, with Sunday’s hosts the only team yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season.
Another blank today would see them fail to score in their first three games of a season for the first time in their history, and their league-low tally of 13 shots so far will not exactly encourage supporters.
Should Leeds be as open as they have been in their first two games then the Blades will fancy their chances of at least getting off the mark in terms of goals, although Chris Wilder will know that points on the board is the only thing which will quieten the ‘second-season syndrome’ talk which is already beginning to grow.
Including the tail end of last term, Sheffield United have now lost their last five league games – their longest such streak under Wilder and since September 2013, when they were still in the third tier.
The Blades have only ever begun a league campaign with three defeats in a row twice before in their entire history, but Monday’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa will have severely dented their confidence – even more so than the opening-weekend 2-0 home defeat to Wolves.
A poor start to the season naturally leaves fans looking at where their first points might come from and, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea to come in four of their next five league games, Wilder will know the importance of getting something from Sunday’s match.
Sheffield United possible XI: Ramsdale, Basham, Ampadu, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Berge, Stevens, McGoldrick, McBurnie.
Leeds United possible XI: Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas, Costa, Klich, Phillips, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford.