Sheffield United vs. Crystal Palace
Venue: Bramall Lane
Kick off: 4:30PM
Both Sheffield United and Crystal Palace will be looking for their first wins of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign when they lock horns at Bramall Lane this afternoon.
Sheffield United opened their season with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth last weekend, while Roy Hodgson’s Palace started with a goalless draw at home to Everton.
Billy Sharp came off the bench to score a late equaliser at the Vitality Stadium last weekend with Sheffield United facing the possibility of losing their opener at Bournemouth.
Indeed, Chris Mepham’s goal looked to be deciding the contest in Dorset, only for Sharp to net a leveller in the 88th minute.
Bramall Lane will be bouncing today as the stadium prepares to host its first top-flight fixture in 12 years.
Dating back to last season, the Blades have only lost one of their last 19 league matches, while they are unbeaten in their opening home match in each of their last four top-flight campaigns.
Much of the team’s success last season was built on a strong defence, which conceded just 41 times in their 46 Championship matches – the joint-best record in the division alongside Middlesbrough.
The step up in class to the Premier League is huge, though, and the Blades must rise to the challenge.
Chris Wilder resisted the temptation to start either Sharp or big-money signing Oliver McBurnie in the final third against Bournemouth, and it will be fascinating to see what the head coach has in mind for this match.
Each of Sheffield United’s next three games are actually at home – taking on Palace and Leicester City in the Premier League before hosting Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup.
If the newly-promoted club are to be successful this season then it is absolutely vital that Bramall Lane becomes a fortress.
Much of the talk heading into last weekend’s clash with Everton surrounded a certain Wilfried Zaha.
Indeed, the Ivory Coast international failed to force a move away from Selhurst Park in the latter stages of the transfer window, and will now seemingly remain at the club until at least January.
Zaha was a second-half substitute in the goalless draw with Everton, and head coach Hodgson will have been pleased with his team’s performance against a Toffees side tipped for big things this term.
It was a solid start to the campaign but the Eagles will be eyeing their first three points on Sunday.
Nine of Zaha’s 10 Premier League goals last season came on the road, while Palace earned nine more points on their travels than they did at Selhurst Park during the 2018-19 campaign.
Hodgson will be keen to improve his team’s home form this term but picking up results on the road is not exactly a bad habit to have.
Palace won the last meeting between the two teams at Selhurst Park in the Championship back in February 2011.
The pair have not actually locked horns in the Premier League since the inaugural season back in 1992-93, though, where the Eagles triumphed in both matches.
Despite losing 17 Premier League matches last season, Palace claimed a respectable 12th-placed finish and were actually only three points off ninth-placed Leicester City.
Zaha is absolutely key to the team’s chances of a successful campaign but it remains to be seen whether a failed transfer will see his head drop.
Sheffield United possible XI: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Robinson, Sharp.
Crystal Palace possible XI: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Kelly, Van Aanholt, Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Meyer, Zaha, Benteke.