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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Sheffield United

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After FA Cup success at the weekend, the Reds take on the hapless Blades

Sheffield United v Manchester United - Premier League - Bramall Lane Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s match:

(1) Manchester United defeated Liverpool 3-2 on Sunday in a back-and-forth affair to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup. Mo Salah put Liverpool ahead early on, but United rebounded behind goals from Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, and Bruno Fernandes to clinch the memorable cup win.

(2) Saturday’s win in the FA Cup ended on a somewhat dour note as Marcus Rashford left late on with a knee injury. Afterwards, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that the 23-year-old will go for knee scans on Monday. Fingers crossed for good news.

(3) Solskjaer on quickly moving on after the win over Liverpool:

Another game on Wednesday night, so no time to rest, no time to celebrate. When we leave the stadium, it’s about recovering and getting your head on the next one.

(4) For a team desperately short on confidence, Sheffield United’s 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle on Saturday shouldn’t be overlooked. When the Blades beat Bristol Rovers in the third round earlier this month, they followed that up with their only Premier League win of the season. Yep, two of Sheffield United’s three wins in 2020/21 have come against League One sides.

(5) Rhian Brewster continues to languish on the bench after his big-money move from Liverpool in the offseason. The 20-year-old got a rare start in Sheffield United’s FA Cup win at the weekend, but he’s still waiting to score his first goal for the club. Brewster’s prolific loan spell at Swansea City in the second half of last season seems to drift further and further away each week.

(6) Billy Sharp, who scored Sheffield United’s winner on Saturday, feels like it’s only a matter of time until Brewster gets on the scoresheet:

I’d have liked him to get a goal, too, because the quicker he gets one then the better he’ll feel. I said to him that he needs to keep getting into the right positions. If he doesn’t get in them, then he’s not going to give himself the chance to score. He had a couple of opportunities [against Plymouth Argyle], but once he gets that first one, it’s a huge weight off the shoulders and then he’ll score plenty more.

(7) Nothing seems to be working for Sheffield United. With relegation already a fait accompli, the Blades are looking for anything positive to take from this accursed season. So far, no dice. On several occasions in recent weeks, Chris Wilder has been unable to name a full bench because of injuries. Oli McBurnie (shoulder) has only played once since mid-December and fellow forward Lys Mousset missed last weekend’s loss to Tottenham Hotspur. Making matters even worse, key defender John Egan will be suspended for the Manchester United match — another big blow to a fragile backline that’s already without Jack O’Connell.

(8) The Blades really miss Dean Henderson. With Hendo unavailable for another loan, Sheffield United signed Aaron Ramsdale for £18.5 million to replace him in goal. It hasn’t gone well...

(9) One bright spot has been the development of Ethan Ampadu. It doesn’t do Sheffield United much good long-term since he’s on loan from Chelsea, but the 20-year-old defender has established himself as a key part of Wilder’s defense. He plays on the left side of Sheffield United’s back three and can even step forward to play defensive midfield if needed. After a disappointing loan spell at RB Leipzig last season, Ampadu is making the most of the minutes that he’s gotten with the Blades.

(10) Sheffield United are hot on the trail of Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard. Wilder hopes to bring Lingard in on loan for the second half of the season, giving the United academy grad a platform of consistent playing time ahead of a permanent transfer elsewhere this summer. While Lingard might be unimpressed with a move to Bramall Lane, he would be virtually guaranteed minutes and, despite Sheffield United’s historic futility, they still play a fairly attacking, up-tempo style. He would be wise to seriously consider Wilder’s offer.

(11) Chris Wilder on playing without pressure:

I think the pressure has been off us for the last season and a half because, and rightly so, we were written off as soon as we stepped into the division, for obvious reasons. That doesn’t change for me, but the outside perception changes because of what you achieve. But nothing really changes for me — we are underdogs in an extremely competitive division.