Why is Chris Wilder keeping one eye on Liverpool ahead of Manchester City test?

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted he must keep one eye on Thursday’s meeting with Liverpool as his squad prepares to finalise its preparations for tomorrow’s visit to Manchester City.

Saturday, 28th December 2019, 6:00 am
John Fleck, pictured in action against Watford, is also set to start against Manchester City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But, speaking ahead of United’s most challenging run of fixtures since being promoted from the second tier, the 52-year-old insisted that does not mean he is prioritising the trip to Anfield, where Jurgen Klopp’s side boast a double figure lead at the top of the table, above their date with the reigning Premier League champions.

“Sometimes, you have to think ahead in this little period and we have done,” Wilder said. “You try and plot your way through busy periods.

“When the games come thick and fast, like they are doing now, it’s important we try and ploot our way through so there will be one eye on the Liverpool game and further forward as well.”

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Although his words suggest United are planning to make changes against City, it is likely Wilder and his staff will wait until January 5th’s FA Cup tie against AFC Fylde before resting their most influential performers.

Lys Mousset, United’s leading goalscorer, could return to face Pep Guardiola’s side after starting the draw with Watford on the bench. But others, including John Egan, Jack O’Connell, Oliver Norwood and John Fleck, are expected to play three times in the space of a week.

“We haven’t needed to (change) for most of the season because of the Saturday to Saturday schedule,” Wilder said. “But we did change for our recent game against Newcastle, which I appreciate some people find difficult to understand at times.

“The players don’t, though. You have to do it because of the intensity of the division and everyone has the same scenario.

“All managers have to plot through game by game, look at who you are playing against, who is out of form and who has little issues injury-wise or whatever.”