Sheffield United: Chris Wilder is refusing to be distracted by West Ham's confusing claims

Chris Wilder has dismissed claims Sheffield United could take West Ham by surprise when the two clubs renew their rivalry at the London Stadium, despite Manuel Pellegrini's bizarre description of the visitors' tactics ahead of the fixture.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 1:35 pm
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 11:54 pm
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder (left) James Wilson/Sportimage

United have been praised for the quality of their football since being promoted from the Championship last season, and enter tomorrow's match on the back of a 1-0 victory over Arsenal.

Although a number of former professionals, including ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, commended the way Wilder's side approached that game, Pellegrini described them as playing "totally English" and "direct" football earlier this week. Declan Rice, the West Ham midfielder, also raised eyebrows when he suggested United's encouraging start to the season - they are ninth in the table - could be attributed to a "willingness to get behind the ball."

Wilder, however, is not being lulled into a false sense of security by what some members of his staff suspect are comments deliberately designed to confuse and irritate.

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"People always take notice, with the video and analysis work that goes on," the United manager said. "The detail people go into is something else. There was a story, when Chelsea played a team from the lower leagues under Jose Mourinho, who is one of the greatest ever, in the FA Cup. At the end he gave them a document showing how much they (Chelsea) had prepped to face them and that was a show of respect."

"Teams will have been watching us all the way through, even going back to what we were doing in the Championship," he added. "So I don't think we're a surprise. Just as I don't think teams we're playing are a surprise to us."

United travel to the capital unbeaten on the road since January, while West Ham are hoping to bounce back from a defeat by Everton.

Despite causing confusion with his assessment of United's strategy, Pellegrini did commend the work of his counterpart in South Yorkshire and predicted Wilder's squad will avoid an immediate return to the second tier.

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini: Mark Kerton/PA Wire.

"When they have a clear style of play, when they work during the week the same way they play during their games in the Premier League, probably they will be a consistent and solid team the whole season," the Chilean said.

United have no fresh injuries ahead of the clash while West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell has recovered from a groin strain.