The facts, figures and faces behind Sheffield United's game against West Ham

The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield: Scott MerryleesThe Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield: Scott Merrylees
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield: Scott Merrylees | JPIMedia
As eighth-placed Sheffield United prepare to meet West Ham in the Premier League, The Star’s James Shield analyses some of the facts and figures surrounding the upcoming contest at Bramall Lane.

The Teams: Sheffield United - Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood, Fleck, Lundstram, Mousset, McGoldrick. West Ham - Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Rice, Snodgrass, Noble, Fornals, Felipe Anderson, Haller.

The Referee: Michael Oliver, assisted by Simon Bennett and Daniel Cook, will take charge of United’s game against West Ham while Simon Hooper is the fourth official. Chris Kavanagh is scheduled to oversee VAR duties at Stockley Park. He oversaw United’s recent trip to Manchester City, impeding John Fleck during the build-up to the hosts’ first goal. Oliver, from Northumberland, has not refereed United since April 2018 when they drew 1-1 with Cardiff in a Championship fixture at Bramall Lane. But the 34-year-old has encountered West Ham twice; overseeing their defeats by Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur.

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The Last Time Out: United secured a 1-1 draw when they travelled to east London three months ago, overcoming a sluggish first-half display punished by Robert Snodgrass’ opener when Lys Mousset equalised midway through the second period. The Frenchman had earlier been summoned from the bench only six minutes earlier, replacing Oliver Norwood. Despite enjoying only 39 per cent of the possession during a match which later saw Snodgrass strike a post, United manager Chris Wilder felt his side were worthy of a point. “We were lacklustre before the break but we came back well, played some good football and showed great desire too,” he said. Manuel Pellegrini, Wilder’s then counterpart in the capital, lamented his side’s failure to see the match out, saying: “In football, you need to score and take chances.” The Chilean was eventually relieved of his services just before Christmas, when he was replaced by David Moyes.

The History: This will be the 89th meeting between the two clubs, with United boasting a 40 per cent win ratio compared to the visitors’ figure of 34 per cent. West Ham last won at Bramall Lane in September 2004, when a late free-kick from Teddy Sheringham saw them secure a 2-1 victory after Alan Quinn had earlier cancelled-out Marlon Harewood’s opener. Phil Jagielka, now back at United following a 12 year spell with Everton, started that match while Billy Sharp was an unused substitute. Jack Lester, who took charge of the Steelphalt Academy youth programme last year, also featured after replacing Michael Tonge during the half-time interval. Of the seven contests since then, four, including United’s appearance at the London Stadium in October, have finished all square.

The Form Book: United have won four of their eleven league outings since travelling to West Ham earlier this term, drawing four and losing three. Two of those defeats have come in their last two games, although they did pit Wilder’s newly promoted squad against City and Liverpool. The United manager responded to that loss at Anfield by changing his entire starting eleven for last weekend’s FA Cup win over AFC Fylde. West Ham make the journey north searching for their third straight victory under Moyes, who began his second spell in charge of the visitors last month. After thrashing AFC Bournemouth 4-0, they also reached the fourth round of the cup by beating Gillingham away from home.

The Star Men: Fleck has been one of United’s stand-out performers in recent weeks, producing an excellent display at City as Wilder’s men were unfortunate not to take something from the match. Indeed, the Scot was impeded by the referee as he attempted to collect a routine pass, allowing Sergio Aguero to score the first of City’s two goals. Snodgrass, who was on target against United in October, is a player greatly admired by the United manager. The Scot also found the back of the net on his last visit to Bramall Lane, during a spell on loan with Aston Villa in January 2018.