Wan-Bissaka braced for Blades' cut and thrust
Manchester United are ready to play at Old Trafford for the first time in more than three months and Aaron Wan-Bissaka is raring to go.
United's right-back was fully engaged in our first post-lockdown assignment last Friday, completing four tackles as the Reds rallied from going behind in North London to draw 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur.
Aaron has endeared himself to the fans in his debut season at the club, making 103 tackles in the Premier League so far. This impressive statistic is the second-highest tally in the top flight, behind only Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira who has 119 after playing one more game.
This will come as no surprise to any supporter, or the man himself, who continued to remind us of his love for a good tackle when he spoke ahead of this evening's match with Sheffield United.
Scout report: Sheffield United
Has the Blades' impressive season gone under your radar? Fear not, our Scout Report has the low-down...
"I relish it," he said. "It means a lot to me to make every tackle. I like to make a lot of tackles and always make sure they’re successful. I didn’t realise it was [over] 100 – that means a lot."
Last Friday's match was Wan-Bissaka's first taste of competitive action at United without any fans being present, as our right-back was not in the squad for our 5-0 win over LASK before the suspension of football in mid-March. He revealed that he and his team-mates had to initially adapt to playing without the roar of thousands of passionate supporters cheering them on.
"It was a good feeling [to play again] after a long wait," he said. "It wasn’t just myself, all of us felt like that, we just wanted to get back. But it was quite difficult and different because we play for the fans - that’s who we play for.
“So we had to adapt to that [empty stadium] but once you get on the pitch you block it out and focus on the game.
Although, Aaron did admit: "I’ve missed hearing the chants I usually hear after tackles!"
Back in November, the Uniteds of Sheffield and Manchester played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane. Seven months on, Chris Wilder's European-chasing side make the journey across the Pennines to Old Trafford in need of a victory, after failing to win either of their two fixtures since the restart.
"I expect them to come back after their last two games," Aaron said. "I’m expecting energy, teams like that really want to beat us so it’s never an easy game, it will be tough. That’s something we’ve got to prepare for.
"They’ve probably prepared to come at us and give us all they’ve got."
The Reds return home
Feeling pumped for our first home game in over three months? If not, this will get you right in the mood...
Mirroring the work of Luke Shaw on United's opposite flank, Wan-Bissaka brought the ball forward on occasions during our score draw with Spurs. Between them, the two full-backs made six dribbles. This tactic has been something that the 22-year-old has been eager to add to his game since pulling on the famous red shirt.
"The coaches have been helping me a lot," he said. "They’ve given me the licence to go forward and have also helped me understand when to go forward."
One other factor the players will need to be prepared for on Wednesday is the heat, with temperatures at kick-off expected to be around 28 degrees Celsius.
Highlights: Tottenham 1 United 1
Watch the goals from Steven Bergwijn and Bruno Fernandes, plus other key moments, from Friday's return to action...
If this fixture was played on its original date, back in March, the players would more than likely have emerged from the Old Trafford tunnel to a stiff breeze or, more than likely, a typical spring shower.
"It will be different," Aaron admitted. "I’ve never witnessed that [the heat] in Manchester. It might be difficult for the team who has less of the ball and they’ve just got to use it against the other team.
"It will be great to play another game, that’s all everyone wants to do, play at Old Trafford and get the result."
We are all United as the Reds go marching on! On sale now, get your 2019/20 kit while stocks last.