Newcastle United-Sheffield United Preview

·3 min read

Chris Wilder has stressed the importance of Sheffield United's win over Bristol Rovers as the Blades head into a crunch Premier League meeting with Newcastle United.

The Blades won for the first time in any competition this season as they edged past lower league Rovers in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

It also brought up Wilder's 100th victory as Blades boss, with the former United player having been on 99 wins since July.

His team sit rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with just two points from 17 games, and host struggling Newcastle on Tuesday.

"The club needed the win. We all needed it," said Wilder on Monday. "Players needed it for a bit of belief and self confidence, and the supporters as well because it's been an incredibly tough year for them.

"We can't look too far ahead. We've really got to crack on with that next game. (We were) in Sunday morning preparing, in today, in tomorrow for another big game. It's a big challenge ahead of us, as they all are."

Newcastle head to Bramall Lane on the back of a 2-0 defeat to FA Cup holders Arsenal in their tie, with Steve Bruce's Magpies winless in their last five league outings.

"You are always judged on results. Unfortunately we have not had enough good ones. Certainly with who we've had to play the fixture schedule was unkind," Bruce told a news conference.

"But that's the Premier League and you've got to play everybody twice. This run of games has been difficult."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sheffield United – Oliver Burke

Burke scored one and then played a key part in the Blades' winner in the FA Cup, and will be aiming to carry on that form up against Newcastle's defence.

Newcastle United – Karl Darlow

Martin Dubravka returned from a long injury lay off to play in the defeat at Arsenal, but his stand-in Darlow has been Newcastle's standout performer this season. Bruce has conceded he has a tricky decision to make, but if Darlow keeps his place, he now has serious competition.

KEY OPTA FACTS

•The Blades have lost their last five league matches against Newcastle. They last had a longer league losing run against an opponent between 1990 and 1992 against Leeds United (six in a row).

•United have lost their last five home league matches, their worst home league losing run since September 1908 (also a run of five). Since joining the Football League in 1892, the Blades have never lost six consecutive home matches.

•Callum Wilson has been directly involved in 63 per cent of Newcastle's away goals in the Premier League this season (5/8), scoring three goals and registering two assists.

•Bruce has won seven of his 10 league matches against Sheffield United (70 per cent) – among the 38 teams he has faced at least 10 times, only against QPR (73 per cent - 11/15) does he have a better win percentage than against the Blades.

•Antwoine Hackford became Sheffield United's youngest appearance maker in the Premier League last time out at Crystal Palace (16y 288d) – if he starts this game, he would be just the fourth 16-year-old to appear in a Premier League starting XI, after Wayne Rooney, Jose Baxter and Reece Oxford.