While key battles take place across the Atlantic, all eyes in Sheffield are focused on today’s visit to an in-form Chelsea side.
Chris Wilder’s men remain without a win this term, registering just a single point on the board in the home game with Fulham a few weeks back.
It goes without saying really that a result of some sort would go down a treat. A much-needed boost to the confidence of the Blades squad ahead of what will otherwise feel like a long two weeks.
The Blades have been given a small boost thanks to a couple of Chelses injuries. Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic will miss out, while Frank Lampard may choose to make changes after playing in midweek.
However, there’re still be some key battles to be won during the game and you can’t help but feel that Oli McBurnie could have a key role in nullifying the aerial dominance that Thiago Silva has shown in recent times.
Goals missing but McBurnie still has key role
Thiago Silva is one of the best defenders of the last decade and beyond. Strong, powerful, and a serial winner, they really don’t come much more impressive than the Brazilian.
However, while on paper Silva is a big fish and will prove a big test for United’s number nine, McBurnie will fancy his chances of disturbing the peace in what has, at times, looked a shakey back four at Chelsea.
Granted, things have improved for the Blues of late. The signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has calmed some nerves, while Thiago has started to exert himself a bit more on proceedings.
But, McBurnie can dominate. He gave Joe Gomez a torrid time at Anfield a few weeks back, while he got into good positions against City but cut a frustrated figure at the lack of ball into the box.
Keeping Silva from dominating the first ball will be vital for United. McBurnie needs to be United’s presence in attack and not allow the former PSG man to settle into the game. He can succeed, too, given he tops the Premier League stats chart comfortably in terms of aerial duels won (54).
Of course, McBurnie should relish that challenge. And if he can set the platform for United today, then maybe, just maybe, that first three points might well come today.