Unai Emery suggested he is ready to hand record signing Nicolas Pepe a first Arsenal start in Saturday's Premier League clash with Liverpool.

The Ivory Coast forward arrived in a deal that could reach a reported €72million from Lille in the close season but has been limited to substitute appearances in wins over Newcastle United and Burnley.

Gunners boss Emery has been reluctant to thrust the 24-year-old into action due to a lack of pre-season preparation at Arsenal.

But Emery hinted a more prominent role is possible for Pepe against Liverpool as the only two teams with 100 per cent records in the Premier League face each other at Anfield.

"The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here. Now he is three weeks into working here with us," Emery said of Pepe. 

"He didn't do the pre-season here but he's progressively feeling better. For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley. 

"I think his individual performances are progressively getting better. For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. 

"I am going to decide tomorrow, but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him. 

"The most important piece of the adaptation is to help him to feel easy and be comfortable with us."

Emery, who will also make a decision on Friday over the availability of Mesut Ozil (illness) and Granit Xhaka (leg), has led Arsenal to two opening league wins for the first time in a decade.

But in Arsenal's last visit to Anfield they were ransacked 5-1 by Jurgen Klopp's men and Emery says the test against the Reds is an opportunity for his side to show their quality.

"Each match is a big challenge and each match is for us to prepare best as possible. The idea is to continue creating in our way and style," he added. 

"We need to be strong and also we can recover some players to be fit. I think we are closer to achieving everyone being ready to play, but we need some more time. 

"For Saturday, we are in good spirits and our players are ready to play with big ambition to do something important.

"It's a big stadium with a big atmosphere and I want to play every match in our amazing stadium with our amazing supporters in our home. 

"It's going to be a different game to Burnley because the team is different. They are going to demand different tactical issues, but we want to play and show how we are now. 

"It's a big test to show their capacity and our capacity."

Ahmed Elmohamady has signed a one-year contract extension with Aston Villa.

The 31-year-old joined Villa in 2017 and provided the assist for Anwar El Ghazi's goal in the Championship play-off final win over Derby County that saw them return to the Premier League in May.

After making 40 appearances last season, Elmohamady has started each of Villa's top-flight games this campaign.

Dean Smith's men are winless following successive defeats to Tottenham and Bournemouth.

Axel Witsel could have joined Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at various points in his career but feels vindicated in his decision to sign for Borussia Dortmund last year.

Witsel is in his second season at Dortmund, having joined the Bundesliga club from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjin on a four-year contract.

He narrowly missed out on the Bundesliga title in his debut campaign. However, Witsel believes he is at the right club after possible moves to other European heavyweights did not come to pass.

Speaking to Goal and DAZN, the former Zenit midfielder detailed how he missed out on joining Madrid from Benfica before electing to return to Zenit ahead of moving to Juve.

"I could have joined Real Madrid when Jose Mourinho was there," Witsel said. "But then Real signed Luka Modric, so a transfer to Madrid made no sense to me.

"Shortly before the end of the transfer period Zenit called. I had good discussions with the people responsible and finally agreed. I am an open person and was not afraid of Russia.

"My contract with Zenit expired and I wanted to move to Turin to Juventus. I had already passed the medical check and actually only had to sign the contract.

"I waited all day in the office and Zenit told me to come back. In retrospect, that was perhaps a twist of fate. Maybe it was just not the right time."

United and PSG were said to be in the running for his signature in 2018, but the prospect of regular first-team football convinced Witsel to choose Dortmund instead.

"First [Dortmund sporting director] Michael Zorc approached me, then [coach] Lucien Favre called me," Witsel added.

"I also had other offers, maybe I could have gone to Paris or Manchester, but I did not want to wait. And I had the feeling that I was the first choice for Dortmund. It is important to feel good when you go to a new club.

"So after the talks with Zorc, Favre and [CEO] Hans-Joachim Watzke, I decided to join BVB. Dortmund is a top club - and I really wanted to join a top European club.

"Maybe it was my last chance at 29 years old. It was the right decision."

Ryan Giggs is pleased Gareth Bale's Real Madrid future has for now been resolved but he still would have picked the forward for Wales had he moved to China.

Bale appeared to be on the brink of a switch to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning amid an apparent breakdown in relations with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, that prospective transfer fell through and Zidane has since indicated Bale will be staying at Madrid beyond the end of the transfer window.

Speaking after naming his squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan next month, Wales manager Giggs said: "I kept in touch with him [Bale] to see if he was all right.

"It was a strange situation but hopefully now it's sorted out - Gareth stays and plays games.

"It's obviously positive at the moment, I'm really pleased with the situation and looking forward to meeting up."

Asked what impact a move to China would have had on Bale's international career, Giggs replied: "It wouldn't have been ideal.

"It's a preference for your players to be in Europe with the travelling and the different calendars, but I'd still have picked him."

Former Manchester United star Giggs believes the Red Devils' Welsh winger Daniel James requires more protection from referees.

James was booked for simulation in United's 1-1 draw with Wolves, in which he was persistently fouled.

"You've seen he gets kicked a lot," Giggs added of James.

"Sometimes when you anticipate it, it can look live a dive. The speed he's going at it can look worse, but I'm not worried about that.

"He gets a lot of stick and referees need to protect him."

The Premier League's top two in this embryonic 2019-20 season go head to head on Saturday as Liverpool host Arsenal.

The two sides took contrasting approaches to the transfer window, with European champions Liverpool largely setting for the same squad again, as Arsenal splashed out on Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

But both tactics have been rewarded with early season results, meaning the division's only remaining 100 per cent records are on the line at Anfield.

At least one of those winning starts will end and, with the help of Opta data, we take a look at the intriguing contest ahead.

 

CAN ARSENAL BREACH FORTRESS ANFIELD?

Arsenal will have their work cut out if they are to end a miserable run of six Premier League games without victory at Anfield, a stadium where they have lost 13 times in the competition - second only to Manchester United's Old Trafford.

That stretch of six matches has also seen the Gunners concede at least two goals per game and a concerning 22 in total.

Liverpool are not in the business of dropping points at home and, in fact, they are unbeaten in 41 matches there. Only Chelsea's sensational 86-match streak, that ended in October 2008, can top that.

Far from flat-track bullies, the Reds' form is dominant against the recognised 'top six', too, against whom they are unbeaten in 18 at Anfield, winning 10.

Last season's 5-1 win for Liverpool in this fixture provides a reminder of just how badly things could go wrong for Arsenal.

HEAD TO HEAD: MOHAMED SALAH V NICOLAS PEPE

Mohamed Salah scored in that demolition and will aim to star again on Saturday. In the visiting dressing room, Pepe will hope to echo the Egyptian's impact following a club-record transfer.

Pepe's statistics in his final season with Lille were similarly outstanding to Salah's in the last campaign at Roma that saw him earn the Liverpool move.

Salah had 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 in total or one every 95.6 minutes. Pepe, meanwhile, scored an impressive 22 and also laid on 11, with his 33 goal involvements occurring every 100.8 minutes.

There were comparisons to be drawn between their styles, yet Pepe perhaps surprisingly attempted more dribbles (213 versus 70) and won more fouls (108 versus 26) than Salah, who is renowned in the Premier League for his close control and ability to draw challenges.

Arsenal will hope Pepe can translate his form to English football with the same success.

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool's home record might worry Pepe and Arsenal, but their outstanding form is not confined to Anfield. The Reds are enjoying a club-record Premier League run of victories (11 matches), and another win on Saturday would see them tie their all-time league streak of 12.

Arsenal will surely have to stop Klopp's attack to get a result.

The last time Liverpool dropped points in the Premier League was a goalless draw against Everton in March. The same result against fellow rivals Manchester United a week earlier was the only other time in 32 league games they have failed to score.

Arsenal - on a three-match top-flight winning run - have not won four on the bounce in almost a year, while victory would also see the Gunners triumph in the first three games of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 2004-05, when they were last defending champions.

HISTORY SAYS...

Expect goals! Clashes between Liverpool and Arsenal have had 155 - more than any other Premier League fixture.

While Salah is a threat, Roberto Firmino will hope to be in the mix again, too, as the Brazilian has seven goals in four games in this fixture at Anfield.

Where Liverpool's front men could be backed to fire, though, the same might not be true of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He has scored just three goals in 13 games against 'top six' opposition, compared to 31 in 38 against the rest of the league.

Liverpool will certainly be favourites - unbeaten in eight against Arsenal, their best such run since February 2000 - and Klopp has never lost to the Gunners.

Prising Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain is proving difficult.

After Barcelona had an offer turned down by PSG, LaLiga giants Real Madrid are the latest club to be rejected.

With the transfer window set to close on September 2, time is running out to meet PSG's demands.

 

TOP STORY – MONEY PLUS BALE, NAVAS AND JAMES NOT ENOUGH FOR PSG

Paris Saint-Germain have rejected €100million plus Real Madrid trio Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas and James Rodriguez for Neymar, L'Equipe claims.

After Barcelona's initial loan bid was turned down by PSG, Madrid tried to jump the queue, but it was not enough to satisfy the Ligue 1 champions.

PSG spent a world-record €222m on Neymar two years ago and it will take a lot more to sign the wantaway star as Barca and Juventus circle.

 

ROUND-UP

- Talk of Navas being included in a deal comes as Marca reports the Costa Rica goalkeeper has asked to leave Madrid after being told he will be back-up to Thibaut Courtois.

- Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is open to joining Inter Miami in MLS. Miami – owned by David Beckham – are set to enter the league in 2020 and they are keen to make a big-name signing. Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani has been linked, while Mundo Deportivo has now talked up Uruguay team-mate Suarez.

- According to Calciomercato.com and Corriere della Sera, PSG are interested in Paulo Dybala and Juventus team-mate Miralem Pjanic. Dybala has been tipped to leave the Serie A champions, while Pjanic could depart Turin as Juve look to raise funds following the arrivals of Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Merih Demiral.

Atletico Madrid have no doubts that they will sign Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia, says Marca. Rodrigo will arrive once Angel Correa completes his protracted move to AC Milan.

Roma are in talks with Juve over a move for defender Daniele Rugani, claims Goal. Initially linked to Liverpool's Dejan Lovren after Kostas Manolas' switch to Napoli, Roma are now keen to bring in Rugani, who is valued at between €20-25m.

- The Sun reports Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea could wait until January before signing a new contract. The Spanish star has reportedly agreed in principal to extend his deal, which expires next year.

- Inter have accepted an offer from Napoli for former captain and outcast Mauro Icardi, according to Corriere dello Sport. However, Sky Sport Italia and Sportialia insist Icardi is not interested in moving to Napoli as he eyes Juve. With that in mind, Napoli are reportedly pushing to sign free agent Fernando Llorente.

Barcelona and Chelsea are leading the race to sign 16-year-old Las Palmas midfielder Pedri. That is according to Marca, which says Pedri could be available for €10m (£9m).

Romelu Lukaku has hit out at Manchester United for not doing enough to protect him in the media and claims he, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez were continually made scapegoats.

Belgium international Lukaku joined Inter before the close of the Premier League transfer window for a reported fee of €75million, just two years on from his move to Old Trafford from Everton.

The 26-year-old was criticised at times for his all-round play at the head of the attack under former boss Jose Mourinho and he was supplanted as first-choice striker by Marcus Rashford after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge.

Lukaku feels there was an unjust focus on his performances as well as those of Pogba and Sanchez, who has been tipped to join him at Inter.

"They have to find somebody," Lukaku told the LightHarted Podcast, apparently recorded prior to his Inter move. "It is Pogba, it is me or it is Alexis. It's the three of us all the time.

"They have got to find somebody to blame. I put my hand up, like, this year I don't think I was the only one playing bad. A lot of people were playing bad but they had to find the culprit.

"If they want to put the blame on me, you know what, f*** it, do what you gotta do.

"I think the team has so much potential to do some great stuff. There is a lot of talent. But it is not only talent; you really have to build a team."

Lukaku also took issue with suggestions he did not suit Solskjaer's intended style of play.

"A lot of people don't think I should be part of that system," he said. "That's my feeling from the conversations that I have. I just know.

"For me, the thing that makes me laugh a lot is: how the hell is s*** going bad in my team, but when I play in my national team, it's good? And I'm happy.

"I didn't play the last six weeks of the league, like the last three weeks or something before the end of the season and then I had another three weeks off before I had to play for the national team, and then we go and play with the Belgium team.

"And nobody there complains because I think the perception in my country is changing slightly. A lot of people were saying a lot of stuff. For me, it took years for a lot of people to change their perception. Man U might not get that time. It's s*** that it happens like that.

"When I go and play for my country, we play the style of play that we want to play probably with Man United and I do well over there. So is it me? Four goals in the World Cup, three weeks ago I scored three goals in two games, and before that we played Switzerland and Iceland in September and I scored four goals in two games. I've scored 48 goals for my country.

"We all know that international soccer is different than club football but the playing style we play in the national team is the one we want to play at Man United. So is it me? Or do we need to have a conversation from man to man and tell each other the rules?"

Lukaku added that he felt United did not do enough to defend him when rumours emerged towards the end of last season that he would not be staying at the club.

"I think a lot of stuff has been said where I didn't feel protected," he added. "A lot of rumours, 'Rom is going to go there, they don't want Rom' and nobody came out and shot it down.

"It was for a good three, four weeks. I'm waiting for someone to come out and shut it down. It didn't happen. I had my conversation, told them it was better to go our separate ways. I just wanted you to say, 'Rom is going to fight for his place', but it never happened for four, five months.

"It was all, 'He's got to go, he doesn't deserve to be there'. Well, okay, then I want to go now. There is fighting for your position, but also being somewhere that people want you to be.

"If you're happy, you find a way, it doesn't matter if you're on the bench or starting. But nobody told me that was the situation, so I thought for two, three weeks to analyse, see all this s*** coming out in the media. Who leaks it? Not me. Not my agent. I see it on my phone come out of nowhere.

"I told them, 'It’s not good for me to be at a place where I'm not wanted'."

Davide Zappacosta has joined Roma on loan from Chelsea on an initial six-month loan deal.

Roma have confirmed the move and also hold the option to prolong Zappacosta's temporary stay at Stadio Olimpico until the end of the season, while the Blues have extended the full-back's contract at Stamford Bridge until June 2022.

"I am pleased to join Roma after an experience overseas that helped me progress as both a player and a person," Zappacosta told Roma's official website.

"Being able to play for a great club like this is a huge motivation – I cannot wait to start training alongside my new team-mates."

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte brought Zappacosta to the Premier League from Torino in August 2017 and he made 22 top-flight appearances in his maiden campaign.

However, opportunities last term proved scarce under Maurizio Sarri and he has yet to appear under Frank Lampard, who also has Reece James to compete with Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back when he returns to full fitness following an ankle injury.

Roma's sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, who also worked with Zappacosta at Torino, is sure he will make a big impact in the Italian capital.

"I'm pleased to be able to have Davide on my team once again," Petrachi said.

"Compared with the player that I knew at Torino, now Roma are getting a player who has matured both as a player and a person after a valuable spell in another league.

"I am certain that Davide will be able to make an important contribution during the course of the season."

Zappacosta earned winners' medals in the FA Cup and Europa League with Chelsea.

Daniel Sturridge has agreed a three-year contract with Trabzonspor, the Turkish Super Lig side have confirmed.

The striker, who left Liverpool at the end of last season, is set to join his new club until 2022, with the option of an extra year.

Sturridge was released by the European champions when his contract expired in June after six years at Anfield, in which he scored 67 goals in 160 appearances.

In July, the 29-year-old was fined £75,000 and banned for six weeks - four of which were suspended - for breaching betting rules in English football.

Sturridge, who was free to play again from July 31, said it was "extremely disappointing" to hear the Football Association would be appealing against what the governing body considered to be an insufficient punishment.

"I will continue to defend the case and the appeal," he said.

Trabzonspor finished fourth in the Super Lig last season, six points behind champions Galatasaray.

They face AEK in a Europa League play-off first leg on Thursday.

Injured winger Callum Hudson-Odoi moved closer to a Chelsea comeback as he took part in an open training session at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old has been sidelined since rupturing an Achilles tendon in April.

Hudson-Odoi was linked to Bayern Munich before and after the setback but is reportedly on the cusp of signing a new contract with the Premier League club.

Agreeing fresh terms could come as a double boost with the England international upbeat about an imminent return to playing. 

"Great to be back in training, it's another step in my recovery," Hudson-Odoi said in a video Chelsea posted on Twitter.

"Can't wait to be back at the Bridge playing again. See you soon!"

Hudson-Odoi struggled to secure a starting XI berth under former boss Maurizio Sarri but new head coach Frank Lampard has been vocal in his backing.

"I have seen Callum come through and he is a fantastic talent," Lampard said in pre-season.

"I know the club want him to stay and he is going to be central for us on the pitch."

Hudson-Odoi spent a period training with the club's Under-23 side before linking up with the first team at Cobham on Tuesday.

Chelsea will attempt to secure their first Premier League win of the season when they visit Norwich City on Saturday.

Patrick Cutrone is grateful to AC Milan but claims he was sold by his former club because there is a preference for Italian teams to field foreign players.

The one-cap Italy international ended his 12-year association with boyhood club Milan in July after taking up Wolves' offer of a four-year deal.

He came through the Rossoneri's youth ranks and scored 18 goals in all competitions in an impressive breakthrough campaign in 2017-18, but the 21-year-old was less prolific last term and was moved on for a reported €22million during the close season.

Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, 20, was brought in as a replacement and Cutrone believes that move - as well as Moise Kean's switch from Juventus to Everton - is indicative of the way teams operate in Serie A.

"Me and Kean in the Premier League? It's always the same story - foreigners are preferred to us," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"For us twenty-somethings, it's hard, but in any case I'd like to emphasise something - I’ll always be grateful to Milan for what they gave me."

Cutrone will be back in Italy this week as part of Wolves' squad for their Europa League play-off first leg against Torino.

The Milan youth product has made four appearances for his new side and is expecting a difficult test in Turin on Thursday.

"My first impressions of Wolves have been excellent," he said. "I was received very well and I've already settled in. 

"I didn't like living in a hotel, so I've found a house where my best friend has been keeping me company.

"It'll be tough against Torino. They're a good team and there are several similarities between us and them - passionate fans, character, pride, a sense of belonging."

Leicester City have sent Islam Slimani on a season-long loan to Monaco, who confirmed the deal includes an option to buy.

Algeria striker Slimani joined Leicester from Sporting CP for a reported £28million in 2016 but he has failed to live up to expectations in the Premier League.

The 31-year-old struggled to dislodge Jamie Vardy at King Power Stadium after scoring eight goals in all competitions in his first season in England.

Slimani spent the second half of the following campaign on loan at Newcastle United and was shipped out to Fenerbahce last term.

"I am very happy to be involved with Monaco, a big club that aims to fight for the first places in the championship and to qualify for European competitions," Slimani said.

"I will give everything to help the club achieve its goals."

Slimani won the Africa Cup of Nations in July, appearing as a late substitute as Algeria defeated Senegal in the final.

Reports in England suggest Monaco are closing in on Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina as their next signing.

Leonardo Jardim's men have struggled in the early part of the new season, recording successive 3-0 losses in their opening two fixtures.

Davide Zappacosta arrived at Roma to undergo a medical ahead of finalising a move from Chelsea.

The 27-year-old checked in for medical tests on Wednesday and has been tipped to sign a season-long loan deal at Stadio Olimpico.

Zappacosta joined Chelsea from Torino in August 2017 for a reported £23million but has failed to hold down a spot in the side.

He appeared 26 times in the Premier League during his first two campaigns at Stamford Bridge and has not been used by head coach Frank Lampard this season.

Lampard revealed last Friday he had not made a decision over Zappacosta's future, with fellow right-back understudy Reece James currently sidelined by injury.

But the Italy international's loan switch is seemingly close to going through and he is ready to make an impact at Roma.

"I'm very excited," he told Tuttomercatoweb. "I've missed Italy so much and I'm happy about coming back, even more to Rome, which is near my home.

"I know the club and the fans and I know how much passion they put in. The team are very young and I think we can do well."

Cristiano Ronaldo says he discovered he belonged to a "world of stars" upon comparing himself to the rest of Manchester United's strong squad in 2003.

The future Real Madrid and Juventus forward rose to a prominence after moving to Old Trafford from Sporting CP as a skinny teenager.

Then a flashy winger, Ronaldo scored four goals from 29 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign.

Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy were among United's most prominent players at the time and Ronaldo quickly gained belief he too was destined to reach the top of the game.

"When I started playing for Manchester United at 18, 19, because I was as good as the players who were there I realised 'I'm close to achieving great things'," Ronaldo told Portuguese broadcaster TVI.

"Of course, I was a kid and I had a lot to learn – and I learned a lot from them – but I was in that world of stars.

"I saw that they were not doing anything that I couldn't do.

"There were better players than me: Giggs had more experience and was a better player than me at the time, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer... but I felt that if I worked, with the talent I had, I could be the best player in the Premier League, for example."

Ronaldo spent six seasons at United, winning a first Ballon d'Or the before a €94million (£80m) transfer to Madrid in 2009.

The Portugal captain has since scooped European football's foremost individual honour a further four times.

Barcelona superstar and long-time rival Lionel Messi is the only other player to have claimed the Ballon d'Or on five occasions.

"I know that I am one of the best in my work and that I am in the history of football," Ronaldo said.

"It is no coincidence that only Messi and I have five. It is no accident. And I still feel motivated to try to win collective and individual prizes."

Ronaldo and Juventus commence their Serie A campaign away to Parma on Saturday.

Sheffield United have started well on their return to the big time, gaining four points from their opening two Premier League games.

The Blades have been to League One and back since they were last in the Premier League in 2007, spending six seasons in the third tier before gaining promotion to the Championship in 2017 under Chris Wilder's stewardship.

Wilder, a Blades fan and former player, has ushered in a new style of play at Bramall Lane, which bore plentiful fruit as his side edged out Yorkshire rivals Leeds United to finish second in the Championship last term.

Over the course of last season, Wilder adopted a 3-5-2 system, encouraging his team to play out from the back and get forward in numbers.

A key feature of United's play their overlapping centre-backs and, using Opta data, we have assessed just how the Blades' system works.

 

Three at the back... with a twist

Wilder's switch to a back three propelled United up the Championship and it is a fascinating, inspired approach.

The Blades' centre-backs are commonly Jack O'Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham, while Phil Jagielka rejoined the club in the off-season and provides an experienced head from the bench if required.

United's defenders are all comfortable with the ball at their feet and, while in possession, the two wider centre-backs – typically O'Connell and Basham – are given license to push on.

That allows the wing-backs to drive further forward, forcing opposing full-backs and wingers to defend, while rival midfielders must also draw wide to cover the advancing centre-backs.

Space is subsequently opened up in the middle of the park, with Oliver Norwood often dropping deep to dictate the play.

John Lundstram – whose goal earned a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday – and John Fleck press high to join the strikers, providing United with six attacking options within their opponents' half.

High risk, high reward

The decision to commit so many players forward does, of course, leave United open on the counter-attack.

However, Wilder's side play with pace and aggression once over the halfway line, a fact reflected by their attempted 12,579 passes in the opposition half over the course of the 2018-19 Championship campaign – the most of any team in the second tier.

Of those attempted passes, 8,720 were successful, while United's players had 1,251 touches in the opposition box, a tally which ranked behind only Leeds and champions Norwich City.

Though United's wing-backs do push further up the field, Wilder's men are not overly reliant on crosses into the area, with their total of 720 coming in as the sixth highest in the Championship last term.

Once United do have the ball in the area, last season's top scorer Billy Sharp is often the player to wrap up the move, though club-record signing Ollie McBurnie may be expected to fill that role this season. 

Basham had 78 touches in the opposition box last season, ranking at 11th in the Championship, while the centre-back also created 29 chances. Only Enda Stevens provided more goalscoring opportunities for United. 

Defensive solidity

Wilder's system may allow United's attacking players to thrive, but it also enables the Blades to remain steady in defence.

Though the centre-backs may get caught out by a pass in behind, the three defenders do remain in their shape while in possession, screening the width of the pitch.

While defending, the wing-backs tuck inside, with Norwood and the two more advanced midfielders dropping back to provide a barrier in front of the back three.

United's lack of pace up top could prove an issue if the Blades are pushed deep into their third, though the arrival of Callum Robinson from Preston North End does mean an out ball is available, while McBurnie or David McGoldrick are capable of holding up the play.

Against stronger teams, Wilder's system may well be found out, but so far United's commitment to their style of play is working out just fine.

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