Wolves head to Bramall Lane for the first time since September 2020 and wolves.co.uk has all the key information as Gary O’Neil’s side look to make it six matches unbeaten.
#1 Inside both camps
For the first time this season, O’Neil will have to do without Pedro Neto, who is out for “a few weeks” after coming off injured last weekend. The head coach is boosted by the possible return of Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, however. The midfielder’s suspension ended a fortnight ago, but he missed the Bournemouth and Newcastle United fixtures through injury. He could come back into contention for his third Wolves appearance at Bramall Lane, however. Hugo Bueno and Joe Hodge continue to miss out through injury. Along with Bellegarde, O’Neil has options to replace Neto with. Sasa Kalajdzic and Fabio Silva are waiting in the wings in an attacking sense, while Tommy Doyle and Joao Gomes came off the bench in the midfield last time out.
Sheffield United have been boosted by the return of influential full-back Sam Baldock, who could start for the first time since September tomorrow. Out with a calf injury picked up while on international duty with Greece, Baldock returned to feature off the bench at Arsenal last weekend and has come through the week well. Anel Ahmedhodzic and Oli McBurnie are two injury absentees for Paul Heckingbottom, but both are expected to return in the coming weeks. Rhys Norrington-Davies remains out with a long-term injury, joining a busy treatment room featuring Chris Basham, William Osula, Max Lowe, Tom Davies, John Egan and Daniel Jebbison.
#2 Coming into it
Wolves travel to South Yorkshire unbeaten in five Premier League games, and in a good place after showing the character to come from behind twice and earn a draw against Newcastle United. In those five have been a draw at Luton Town and victory at AFC Bournemouth, and should they beat Sheffield United, the Old Gold will have beaten last year’s win total on the road by November. They’ll travel with confidence, looking for another positive performance and result.
Wolves’ last three | D 2-2 Newcastle (H) – W 2-1 AFC Bournemouth (A) – D 1-1 Aston Villa (H)
The Blades head into the fixture on the back of six consecutive defeats. Last weekend, Heckingbottom’s side were beaten 5-0 at Arsenal, but the previous week at Bramall Lane Manchester United needed a late Diogo Dalot strike to win 2-1, after the Yorkshiremen pushed their visitors all the way. The six games are a mixed bag, ranging from an 8-0 reverse against Newcastle to an agonizing late loss at Tottenham Hotspur. Their only point came against Everton in September.
Sheff United’s last three | L 5-0 Arsenal (A) – L 2-1 Man United (H) – L 3-1 Fulham (A)
#3 Since last time
Wolves 3 Sheff United 0 | 9Th January 2022
The last time the clubs met was in the 2022 FA Cup, with the Championship Blades losing 3-0 at Molineux. Daniel Podence opened the scoring after 14 minutes and, despite United having chances to equalise, Nelson Semedo’s latest goal for the club put the Old Gold in a comfortable position. Podence then wrapped up the victory with the third goal ten minutes from time, securing Wolves with a passage into the fourth round, where they bowed out at the hands of Norwich City at Molineux.
Wolves | Ruddy, Semedo, Kilman, Coady, Marcal, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Dendoncker, Podence, Adama, Silva.
Almost two years later, Wolves are all changed. Only four members of the eleven that day are still at the club and it’s Nelson Semedo, Rayan Ait-Nouri and Rayan Ait-Nouri who started last weekend against Newcastle. Six members of the Blades team remain at the club and just three of them started at the Emirates last weekend – Wes Foderingham in goal, Jayden Bogle at right-back and Jack Robinson at centre-half.
Sheff United | Foderingham, Bogle, Basham, Gordon, Robinson, Norrington-Davies, Berge, Hourihane, Osborn, McGoldrick, Sharp.
#4 In the media
Michael Brown had many a midfield battle with O’Neil during their playing days and the now BBC pundit has been full of praise for the impact his former opponent has had at Molineux.
Brown said: “The results he had at Bournemouth last season were incredible. I think he creates a spirit, desire and a good environment to work in. Everyone said Wolves are in real trouble and yet he’s produced big results. It has changed quickly. You were thinking ‘how will they score goals’? They couldn’t score goals, so it tells you everything to be sat where they are. It’s sensational. Their next fixture at Sheffield United looks a good one too.
“O’Neil has managed to create a confidence on how to play and has managed to get the detail across to his players. With plenty of international players in a group, you may not always get everyone to buy into it. And to cap it off, I think he’s also interviewed in the media really well and with great honesty. He looks like he’s grown into the role much more comfortably than expected.”
BBC Sport’s Marissa Thomas pointed to a lack of goal attempts as one of the reasons why Sheff United couldn’t turn their form around at Arsenal last weekend.
Thomas said: “It was another difficult afternoon for Sheffield United as they were comprehensively beaten at the Emirates Stadium. The Blades had two shots in the game, none on target, and lacked an attacking threat throughout the match. Rhian Brewster made his first start of the season, replacing the injured Oli McBurnie, but he was unable to make an impression in the struggling United side. Lapses in concentration were punished with Oliver Norwood giving away a penalty late on after fouling Fabio Vieira in the area.
“In stoppage time, Takehiro Tomiyasu reacted quickest from a corner to fire in from close range as United switched off once again. Sheffield United have lost nine of their 10 Premier League matches this season (D1) which is the worst ever start to a league season after 10 games. Paul Heckingbottom’s side host Wolves next weekend, as their search for a win continues.”