Welcome back to the Premier League, Sheffield United!
After a 12-year absence, Sheffield United are back in the Premier League after securing the second automatic promotion spot in the Championship.
The Blades - who were last in the top flight in 2007 - have been on a remarkable journey since then, with the South Yorkshire outfit promoted from League One only two seasons ago.
Manager, and Sheffield United fan, Chris Wilder has galvanised a squad that, on paper, many would not have tipped to have gone on and achieved the level of success they have.
United loanee Dean Henderson has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the second tier while, at the other end of the pitch, Billy Sharp is one of the leading scorers with 23 goals.
With a squad assembled on a tight budget, it is going to be interesting to see how the Blades will adapt to life in the top tier. Here's how we have fared against them in the past...
THE FIRST PREMIER LEAGUE MEETING
Our first match against Sheffield United was in fact our opening game of the Premier League era - 15 August 1992. While it was a season to remember for Alex Ferguson's side, it was a game to forget for us, as the Blades secured a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane courtesy of a brace from Brian Deane, before Mark Hughes pulled a goal back.
It was roles reversed at Old Trafford, with Brian McClair and Eric Cantona's strikes sealing a 2-1 victory over Dave Bassett's Sheffield United side, who would ultimately finish in 14th place.
OUR MOST RECENT MEETING
The last time the Reds and the Blades met was in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup in 2016. The third-round tie looked to be heading towards a goalless draw and a replay at the Theatre of Dreams, until Memphis Depay was brought down inside the penalty area in the dying embers of the game. Up stepped Wayne Rooney to fire the ball home and send United through to the fourth round of the competition, which we would go on to win after defeating Crystal Palace in the final in May.
In terms of our last Premier League meeting, it was another showdown at Old Trafford, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side up against current Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock. Under the lights, Michael Carrick gave United an early lead before Rooney doubled our advantage in the second half in a 2-0 victory. We would go on to be champions while Sheffield United were consigned to the drop on the final day of the season.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SINCE RELEGATION?
Following their relegation from English football's top table in 2007, it has been a rollercoaster ride for the Sheffield United fans, who have seen their club play in the second and third tiers.
After reaching the Championship play-off final in 2009 under the stewardship of Kevin Blackwell, the club were relegated to League One two seasons later. More heartbreak was to follow, with the club losing two play-off finals - first of all to Huddersfield Town on penalties, and then a semi-final defeat to Yeovil Town the season after.
The appointment of Chris Wilder on 12 May 2016 proved to be the turning point. The Blades stormed to promotion to the Championship in 2017, racking up 100 points in the process. They acclimatised well to life in the second tier, with the South Yorkshire outfit contending for the play-offs for the majority of last season before falling away late on.
This season, though, Wilder's side have shown resilience, seeing off the competition to earn a return to the top flight 12 years after being relegated. Club captain Billy Sharp, like Wilder a lifelong Blade, has enjoyed a record-breaking campaign, scoring 23 goals and his 100th in Sheffield United colours.
In the squad, Dean Henderson is not the only player with a United connection, with former youth prospect Oliver Norwood achieving a third successive promotion to the Premier League with a third different club after doing so with Brighton in 2017 and Fulham last season.
OUR RECORD AT BRAMALL LANE
Constructed in 1855, Sheffield United's home ground is the oldest major stadium to be hosting professional football matches and has undergone improvement works over the years. In the Premier League era, we have visited Bramall Lane three times, winning two and losing one.
In fact, that one defeat came in our first-ever game in the Premier League in August 1992, which the Blades won 2-1. However, our biggest win at Bramall Lane came the following season, with Mark Hughes, Lee Sharpe and Eric Cantona on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win.
Our last league visit to the Blades' home turf was in December 2006, with Wayne Rooney scoring a brace in a 2-1 victory for the Reds. Let's hope to continue this run when we make our return to Bramall Lane next season.
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