Southampton will look to continue their scintillating start to the season with a win in front of their returning supporters. A win on Sunday could put the Saints into the Champions League spots, albeit if other results go their way.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Sheffield United are yet to pick up their first three points of the season and will look to finally kick start their campaign with a much-needed win against the Saints. The Blades run the risk of being cut adrift if they fail to pick up points during the busy festive period.
The Blades suffered a gut-wrenching defeat to Leicester City last weekend courtesy of a Jamie Vardy goal in the 90th minute. Chris Wilder will take the positives from the game however as his side will feel like their performance justified something from the game.
Sheffield United’s main weakness has been clear to see, the left-hand side. Missing Jack O’Connell for near enough the season has been crushing. That paired with Enda Stevens (LWB) and Ethan Amapdu (LCB) also picking up injuries has lead to a makeshift left side partnership. Danny Ings coming back only makes a clean-sheet look even more unlikely this weekend.
Southampton’s top goalscorer, Danny Ings, could be in contention to start after making a 45 minute cameo last Monday. Ralph Hasenhuttl has stated that Ings has fully recovered from his knee injury.
Along with Ings, Southampton will be boosted by the potential return of Nathan Redmond to the starting 11.
Sheffield United remain without long-term absentee Jack O'Connell.
Chris Wilder is hopeful of the return of Enda Stevens, Lys Mousset, and Ethan Ampadu after all missing the defeat to Leicester.
Southampton (4-2-2-2): Mccarthy, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Redmond, Adams, Ings
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale, Baldock, Basham, Egan, Bryan, Lowe, Lundstram, Berge, Fleck, Brewster, McBurnie
The last time the sides faced off, Southampton came out as comfortable winners in a 3-1 win on the last game of the 19/20 season. The blades took an early lead through John Lundstram in the 26th minute. However, Southampton turned the game on its head in the second half with Che Adams getting a brace and Danny Ings netting from the spot to seal all three points at St. Mary’s.
In the return fixture at Bramall Lane, Moussa Djenepo scored a magnificent solo goal which helped Southampton take home the three points in a 1-0 win.
Ones to watch
Southampton’s attack has been bolstered with the return of their talisman, Danny Ings. Needless to say, Southampton’s number nine is prolific in front of goal. Any space that is given to Ings in the box will lead to an inevitable goal. The English international has six goals so far and will be hungry to add to his tally this coming Sunday.
A bright spark amongst the gloom for the Blades has been last season’s acquisition Sander Berge. His powerful runs forward have been integral in driving the team up the pitch. The Norwegian international has the ability to dictate the midfield and allow the team to play off him. Berge is looking like a real talent this campaign. If Romeu doesn’t control that midfield, things could look good for the Blades.
What the managers have said
Hasenhuttl on the challenge against Sheffield United:
“The position in the table is not really a signal for how strong the opponent is. We went to Chelsea last season, 17th in the table and won there.”
“I told my players that they did a fantastic job there (at Brighton), it’s exactly the same job we have to do this weekend. Sheffield United is a team that is fighting for everything. You will see how focused, how concentrated we are.”
Thoughts on tough festive period coming up:
"We are not scared of this, 3 games a week is not a problem for our players. We didn’t rotate so much last Christmas, the players are so fit. We see that we are always fitter than the opponents.”
Wilder on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s impact on Southampton’s turnaround
“They’re a good side, they’ve found a way which I would imagine is through hard work, building a run and recovering from the situation they were in last year. It’s what the Premier League is all about.”
Where to watch
The match will kick off at 12:00 on Sunday and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League in the UK and Ireland. As always you can catch all the build-up, live coverage and reaction here on VAVEL.