Sheffield United vs AFC Bournemouth Preview: Blades take on the Cherries at Bramall Lane
Photo by Michael Steele via GettyImages

Sheffield United return to Bramall Lane this weekend, as the Blades will host AFC Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon.

United jumped up to 6th place in the Premier League standings with a win last time out, as they beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles were actually the better team to start the contest, and had a few chances to take the lead. Jordan Ayew played Christian Benteke through in behind, but the Belgian could only drill a shot into the side netting. Wilfried Zaha then went for goal near the end of the first half, and saw his effort roll just wide of the target.

Palace would be left to rue their missed opportunities, as the Blades would grab the opening goal of the game courtesy of a shocking goalkeeping error. Oliver Norwood whipped a corner into an area, but hit it directly at Vicente Guaita, who should have easily caught the ball.

Instead, he made a mess of the situation, stumbling backwards across his own goal line with the ball, giving United the lead in the process. 

Both teams came close to finding the back of the net before the game was done, but the Blades were able to hold on to clinch the clean sheet and all three points on the road.

Bournemouth got back to winning ways last week, defeating Aston Villa at the Vitality Stadium in a battle between two teams trying to stave off relegation. 

The Cherries opened the scoring at the half hour mark after a well-worked set piece. A cross from Simon Francis floated towards Dan Gosling at the backpost, who headed the ball back across goal. Phillip Billing was on hand to finish off the move, finding the bottom corner from close range.

Bournemouth would make it two moments before the break. A shot from Ryan Fraser was saved by Pepe Reina, but the rebound fell to Nathan Ake, who slid in to get the ball across the line.

They started to worry only five minutes into the second half, as Jefferson Lerma was sent off after picking up a second yellow card. Things would get worse soon later, as Villa grabbed one back courtesy of the debuting Mbwana Samatta, who headed home a loose ball in the area. 

Despite that, the Cherries were able to secure the crucial victory, with the three points moving them out of the relegation zone.

Last time out

The last time these two sides faced off was on opening weekend, which seems so long ago.

The Blades almost made a dream start to their season, as David McGoldrick came close to scoring in the opening minutes, but was denied by Aaron Ramsdale.

Each team really went for it early on, and even though no one scored, it was still a thrilling first half. 

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 62nd minute, as Chris Mepham poked home a loose ball in the penalty area to give Bournemouth the lead.

It would not last, however, as United equalized in similar fashion before fulltime. The ball just kept bouncing around in the box before eventually falling to Billy Sharp, who somehow managed to get the ball across the line to steal a road point for the Blades.

Team news

United’s only doubt is David McGoldrick, who hasn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury, but could make a brief cameo.

Bournemouth could see a pair of key players return on Sunday, as Joshua King and Jack Stacey are both back in training, and should be fit in time for the matchup.

The Cherries will still be without phenom David Brooks, who is dealing with a long-term ankle injury. Jefferson Lerma will also miss out due to suspension after picking up a red card last week.

Predicted lineups

Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McBurnie, Sharp

AFC Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Smith, Francis, Ake, Rico, Gosling, Cook, Billing, Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson, Fraser

What to watch for

New boys on show?

Sheffield United made three big signings near the end of the January transfer window, and all three could feature on Sunday.

Sander Berge has already made his club debut, and wasted no time acclimating to life in the Premier League. Starting versus Palace, the Norwegian had an instant impact, and helped the Blades pick up the win. He’ll surely get the nod once again, and should build off of his promising performance. 

Richairo Zivkovic was next to come, and will look to help United going forward. No one’s become the team's go-to goalscorer this season, and the Dutchman will try to be that man. He had plenty of potential as a youngster back at Ajax, but hasn’t quite reached the heights expected of him from back in the day. Zivkovic has a fresh start at Bramall Lane, and could carry the Blades up top.

Panagiotis Retsos was the last to join, signing for United on transfer deadline day. Another youthful acquisition, the defender is only 21-years-old, and has plenty of room for improvement. He’ll likely have the toughest time finding minutes in the team due to how good the Blades are defensively, but Restos will be ready to shine whenever called upon. 

With those three now with the club, the Blades will have genuine hope of sealing Europa League qualification for next season.