Sheffield United preview: The Blades turn to youth and experience mix on Premier League return

Of the promoted teams, Sheffield United is very much the underdog but manager Chris Wilder could be the influential figure in the club's bid for Premier League survival.

Oli McBurnie scored 22 goals for Swansea in the Championship last season.   -  Twitter @SheffieldUnited

Sheffield United is back in the Premier League for the first time after 13 seasons. The club was in the third tier of English football as recently as 2016-17 but got back up to the Championship by winning the title that season. Chris Wilder, its current manager, has been the architect of the Blades’ ascension to the top flight, securing two promotions in his three seasons in charge.

Premier League preview: Can Liverpool end Manchester City's hegemony to win maiden title?

The current Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock was the manager when Sheffield last enjoyed top-flight status, which, however, lasted only one season, with the loss to Wigan Athletic on the final day of the 2006-07 season relegating the club back to the Championship. The club finished second behind Norwich City in the Championship last season to return to the Premier League, where it seeks an extended stay beyond this season.

Transfer activity

The club hasn’t splashed the cash to the extent of Aston Villa, for example, but it has spent quite heavily on new forwards Oliver McBurnie (£20million from Swansea City) and Lys Mousset (£10million from Bournemouth). Veteran Phil Jagielka, whose Everton contract expired at the end of last season, returned to the Bramall Lane after he was part of the 2006-07 squad that suffered relegation.

Players to watch out for

Jack O’Connell

He was a defensive mainstay for the Blades in the Championship last season, along with John Egan. Whether Wilder opts for a defensive line of three or four, O’Connell is likely to be one of the central defenders. A left-footed player, the 26-year-old is strong in the air and a good passer from the back.

Jagielka

He made only seven Premier League appearances for the Toffees last season but United is his boyhood club and his top-flight experience with Everton, leadership and organisational qualities make Jagielka a key player for the Blades.

Season expectations

Wilder is a manager who works wonders with limited resources: of the five teams he has managed, Sheffield is the fourth team that he has achieved promotion with. Of the promoted teams, Sheffield is very much the underdog but its progress from League One to the Premier League has been an underdog story as well. Wilder could be the influential figure in Sheffield’s bid for Premier League survival.

Sheffield United's transfer activity

IN: Luke Freeman (£5m, QPR), Phil Jagielka (free, Everton), Callum Robinson (£7m, Preston), Lys Mousset (£10m, Bournemouth), Ravel Morrison (free, Ostersunds), Ben Osborn (undisclosed, Nottingham Forest), Dean Henderson (loan, Manchester United), Oli McBurnie (£20m, Swansea), Michael Verripis (free, Mechelen), Muhamed Besic (loan, Everton)
OUT: Ched Evans (Fleetwood, undisclosed), Caolan Lavery (Walsall, undisclosed), Martin Cranie (free, Luton), Paul Coutts (free Fleetwood), Conor Washington (free, Hearts), Rhys Norrington-Davies (loan, Rochdale), Jake Eastwood (loan, Scunthorpe), Mark Duffy, (loan, Stoke City) Daniel Lafferty (released)

 

Premier League fixtures

August

10 - Bournemouth v Sheffield United

18 - Sheffield United v Crystal Palace

24 - Sheffield United v Leicester

31 - Chelsea v Sheffield United

September

14 - Sheffield United v Southampton

21 - Everton v Sheffield United

28 - Sheffield United v Liverpool

October

5 - Watford v Sheffield United

21 - Sheffield United v Arsenal

26 - West Ham v Sheffield United

November

2 - Sheffield United v Burnley

9 - Tottenham v Sheffield United

23 - Sheffield United v Man Utd

30 - Wolves v Sheffield United

December

3 - Sheffield United v Newcastle

7: Norwich v Sheffield United

14 - Sheffield United v Aston Villa

21 - Brighton v Sheffield United

26 - Sheffield United v Watford

28 - Man City v Sheffield United

January

1 - Liverpool v Sheffield United

11 - Sheffield United v West Ham

18 - Arsenal v Sheffield United

21 - Sheffield United v Man City

February

1 - Crystal Palace v Sheffield United

8 - Sheffield United v Bournemouth

22 - Sheffield United v Brighton

29 - Aston Villa v Sheffield United

March

7 - Sheffield United v Norwich

14 - Newcastle v Sheffield United

21 - Man Utd v Sheffield United

April

4 - Sheffield United v Tottenham

11 - Burnley v Sheffield United

18 - Sheffield United v Wolves

25 - Sheffield United v Chelsea

May

2 - Leicester v Sheffield United

9 - Sheffield United v Everton

17 - Southampton v Sheffield United