Support The GuardianAvailable for everyone, funded by readersMy accountcurrent edition: International editionShowMoreOpinionSportCultureLifestyleWhat term do you want to search?Search with googleMoreSheffield United v Bournemouth: Premier League – live!LIVEUpdated Referee Jonathan Moss heads out for his pre-match pitch inspection.Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Chris Wilder has been talking pre-match, including how he takes new signings down to Bramall Lane rather than their modest training ground, an old working men’s club. It’s an endearing tale. “We always meet the players at the ground about 4 o’clock when the sun’s going down, the lights are on and then the players go, whereabouts is the training ground? And I go, ‘don’t worry about that.’” And here’s another nice little nugget: “We’ve got the best fridge in the as well so hopefully we’ll empty that on Sunday afternoon.” His longtime assistant, Alan Knill, adds: “We have a unique way of playing and it suits this club.”
Some pre-match reading. This is a lovely piece by Simon Burnton:
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More Storm Ciara talk? “Afternoon Ben,” emails Roger Kirkby. “The best live TV at the moment is a YouTube channel called Big Jet TV. They have a livestream from Heathrow showing the planes landing and many not landing, it’s exciting stuff.” That will hopefully change in approximately 22 minutes time ...
Eddie Howe weighs in on Storm Ciara. “On gameday if the pitch is very wet, which it looks like it is, you have to adapt and you cannot play necessarily the same day you would if it was a perfect surface. The recent six points [after victories over Brighton and Aston Villa] have meant a lot, but now we are fully focused on today. We want to leave everything out on the pitch in order to get another win.”
This conditions will ensure a challenging afternoon, especially for goalkeepers Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale, arguably the most exciting English stoppers in the game. Both have worked their way up through the leagues, with a five-month stint on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season, following a sizeable clanger of a different kind, a defining period in Ramsdale’s career:
Team news news: Storm Ciara is in from the off at Bramall Lane, where it is absolutely bucketing it down. The Norway midfielder Sander Berge makes his home debut for an unchanged , with skipper Billy Sharp again leading the line and former Bournemouth striker Lys Mousset on the bench for Chris Wilder’s side. Eddie Howe makes one change from the team that ousted Aston Villa last time out, with Andrew Surman replacing the suspended Jefferson Lerma. And a big boost for Bournemouth is the return of Joshua King from a hamstring injury, with the forward on the bench alongside Jack Stacey.
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, Sharp
Subs: Verrips, Jagielka, Lundstram, Mousset, McGoldrick, Osborn, Retsos
Bournemouth (4-3-3): Ramsdale; A Smith, Francis, Ake, Rico; Gosling, Billing, Surman; H Wilson, C Wilson, Fraser
Subs: Boruc, Stacey, S Cook, L Cook, Stanislas, King, Solanke
It is eight years since last entertained Bournemouth at Bramall Lane, when the hosts finished up on the right end of an eight-goal thriller in League One. Harry Maguire lined up in defence and Ryan Flynn scored twice before Nick Blackman, who joined Maccabi Tel Aviv last summer, put the icing on the cake, stretching Bournemouth’s winless start to the season to five matches. But, a month later, Eddie Howe returned from Burnley, Bournemouth began part two of their extraordinary rise and the rest, as they say, is history.
Chris Wilder has had a similarly monstrous impact since taking over the reins at his boyhood club four years ago. With 13 league games to play this season, sixth-placed Sheffield United are firmly in the conversation when it comes to snatching fourth or fifth spot. After this, the Blades will jet off to Dubai but Europe remains a palpable possibility. The addition of £22m club-record signing Sander Berge only further whets the appetite for what is to come, even if Wilder is staying predictably grounded. “Forty [points] has always been a big number for a newly-promoted side,” said Wilder, whose team are four points shy of reaching that total.
are in a different place but the mood is rather more buoyant on the Dorset coast following successive league wins against fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Brighton. But, as Eddie Howe has stressed, the important thing for his team is to back up those performances. “I am very calm at this moment to say ‘great result, really pleasing’ but am cautious at the same time to not build it up too much and then go flat again,” he said after the latter. “We really want to kick on.”