Manchester City look to end a very successful 2023 on a high as they welcome Sheffield United to the Etihad Stadium. The blues have failed to win at home since hammering Bournemouth 6-1 in November, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool, 3-3 with Spurs and 2-2 with Crystal Palace, and the chances of City making it four draws in a row are slender.
They face a Blades side that are fighting for their Premier League survival and look every inch like relegation fodder, destined for a quick return to the Championship.
United have 19 matches to get as many points as possible, but starting at the Etihad is probably not what the doctor ordered. The Blades are currently on nine points, seven behind 17th-placed Everton, having won 2 and lost 14 of their 19 matches so far this season. And the worrying thing for Blades fans is the fact that they have the worst away record in the Premier League.
The Sheffield side are yet to win away in the Premier League and have picked up just two points on their travels so far, losing an incredible seven of their nine matches away from Bramhall Lane. And the reason for that is a lack of goals, coupled with a very leaky defence. United have scored just five times on their travels and conceded 23, giving them a goal difference of -18, the worst in the league by far.
They are yet to score more than one goal in a single match away from home, and have failed to score in four matches so far. They have been thrashed 5-0 twice - at Arsenal and Burnley, and concede an average of 2.5 goals per away match. Throughout December, United have scored just four goals and conceded 13 from just six matches. Three of those matches were on their travels, during which they scored just once.
Oli McBurnie and Cameron Archer at the main threats for the Blades. Both have scored three apiece this season, however, both are managing just one shot per game. McBurnie has played 12 matches so far and attempted 14 shots, taking a shot accuracy of 64% and a goal conversion rate of 21%. Archer’s stats currently stand at 50% for accuracy and just 17% conversion rate.
Gustavo Hamer has two goals, but from 18 matches, he has managed an average of just under 1 goal per game. His stats return a 41% accuracy, while his conversion rate is a poor 12%. City loanee James McAtee has scored just one goal this season.
McBurnie’s last goal came in the 3-2 home defeat to Luton Town, while Archer last scored in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.
If he plays, Hamer could prove to be a threat to City. With 2 assists so far, Hamer has created 25 chances and has a pass accuracy rate of 74%. McAtee also has two assists to his name, however, he has created less than half the chances Hamer has (12) and has attempted 276 passes over 15 matches, completing 191.
With 596, Jack Robinson has attempted the most passes, completing 469 and has the highest pass accuracy rating of 79%.
Hamer’s last assist came in the 1-1 draw at Villa, while McAtee’s cam during the 3-2 defeat to Luton.
Chris Wilder is in his second spell at Bramhall Lane, having replaced Paul Heckinbottom, who was sacked following the Blades 5-0 hammering at Burnley. Wilder had an impressive record in his first spell at United, taking charge of 227 matches, winning 106 and losing 74, a win ratio of 47%.
This time around, his win ratio is just 20%. However, given that he has only presided over 5 matches, winning just one, it may be a little harsh to judge him just yet.
Our Last Meetings
In September, City beat The Blades 2-1 at Bramhall Lance, thanks to a thumping drive by Rodri.
The last time they met in Manchester was January 2021. The faithful may have been expecting a goal-fest when Gabriel Jesus gave City the lead, however, no further goals were added and City won by a solitary goal.