Thursday, May 23, 2024

Nuno unsure what to expect from relegated Sheffield United

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 May 2024

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Nuno Espirito Santo says Nottingham Forest should expect the unexpected from already-relegated Sheffield United when they travel to Bramall Lane on Saturday.

The Tricky Trees are currently on a four-game winless run as they sit just one point clear of the relegation zone, though that could change if Luton Town beat Everton on Friday.

While much focus has been on off-the-field matters, Nuno looked ahead to what he thinks will be a tough game in the fight for Premier League safety.

He said: “You never know [what United will do]. The element of pressure they had before is gone.

“I don’t exactly know what Chris [Wilder] is going to do – if he’s going to try something for next season. It will be tough. They are relegated, but there will the pride element in front of their fans.

“Looking at the table and the next matches, it’s going to be to the end, it won’t be solved. We are fortunate we rely on ourselves. We must keep it and after Sheffield, it must still be in our hands.”

United’s relegation was confirmed following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle United last Saturday.

Despite an 11-game winless run, Wilder was upbeat about his team’s chances of finishing the season on a positive note.

“We have got a massive obligation to our supporters to go out on a high and give them something for the summer to hang on to because they’ve had nothing to hang on to this season, very few moments,” said Wilder.

“We have two massive, fabulous home games. We all understand the connection and the rivalry between ourselves and Forest recently and going back a long time. We all understand that. On and off the pitch as well, I think this stuff.

“Then an away day at Everton. Three big games for us. My attitude and preparation will be there as it has been since we walked through the door. There won’t be any ‘on the beach’ unless the players produce ‘on the beach’ performances.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

United – Ben Brereton Diaz

Despite only playing 11 Premier League games this season, no United player has had more shots on target than Brereton Diaz (17).

Forest – Chris Wood

Nine of Wood’s 12 Premier League goals this season have either put Nottingham Forest in the lead (four) or drawn them level (five).

MATCH PREDICTION: NOTTINGHAM FOREST WIN

Forest are looking to complete their first league double over United since the 2003-04 campaign when the sides were in the second tier.

Forest have won just one of their last 19 Premier League games against promoted sides (D12 L6), though it was in the reverse fixture against United this season. This will be the second time they have faced an opponent in their first match after being relegated from the Premier League (within the same season), previously beating QPR 3-0 in 1995-96.

Meanwhile, United are just three goals away from becoming the second side in Premier League history to concede 100 goals in a single campaign, after Swindon Town in 1993-94 (100 in 42 games). The Blades would be just the third team to do so in a top-flight season with a maximum of 20 teams, after Darwen in 1891-92 (112 in 26 games) and Leicester in 1908-09 (102 in 38 games).

This is United’s first home Premier League match against Forest since October 1992, a goalless draw at Bramall Lane. They are unbeaten in their last four top-flight home games against Forest (W3 D1) since a 3-1 defeat in August 1967.

Forest have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Premier League away games. Since beating Newcastle 3-1 in their first game on the road under Nuno, the Tricky Trees are now winless in their last seven (D2 L5).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

United – 26.2%

Draw – 28%

Forest – 45.8%

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