19 min: Rodri powers in from the left and shoots from the best part of 30 yards. The rising ball swerves around dramatically, and Ramsdale makes a meal of palming over his bar, before rubbing the rainwater from his eyes. Nothing comes of the corner.
17 min: Mahrez loops one in from the right. Ramsdale punches powerfully clear. This is a little bit scrappy. United won’t mind too much.
15 min: City fail to clear their lines and Lowe is able to drive into their box on the left. He’s forced to turn tail and loses possession. City go up the other end, De Bruyne nearly releasing Sterling down the left, but Egan sticks out a telescopic leg to guide the ball back to Ramsdale. Had he not made contact, Sterling was in on goal. What an intervention!
14 min: The pitch is pretty sodden, though it doesn’t appear to be hindering City’s trademark passing game.
13 min: The corner’s flashed towards the near post, where Laporte slams a first-time shot inches past the left-hand post. Very close to the opening goal.
12 min: City get metronomic. Suddenly De Bruyne and Sterling combine down the inside-left channel. Sterling reaches the byline and wins a corner off Egan.
11 min: United haven’t shown much up front yet. McBurnie wins a couple of long balls, but can’t find Brewster. Berge scuttles down the right but is ushered out of play easily enough by Cancelo.
9 min: City have enjoyed 80 percent of possession so far. A pattern set early doors, I’ll be bound.
8 min: Cancelo swings in from the left. It’s a juicy cross, and met well by Torres, who flashes a header towards the top right. Ramsdale palms away at full stretch, a very decent reflex save. Mahrez tries to keep the move going, latching onto the loose ball on the right, but his cross is no good.
6 min: City continue to dominate possession, albeit to little effect.
4 min: City quickly settle into their pretty passing patterns. Mahrez tries to spring Torres free down the inside-right channel but puts too much weight on the ball and it’s a goal kick.
2 min: Dias will have felt that one. Keep punching, Chris Wilder said. A statement of intent.
Nine seconds: McBurnie sticks a power-shoulder into the chest of Dias, who is clattered to the floor. Oof! Ooyah! Welcome to Bramall Lane.
Manchester City get the match underway … but not before the players take a knee. Black lives matter. There’s no room for racism.
The Last Post. Remembrance of the fallen … and memories of Nobby Stiles, who passed away yesterday. The players will wear black armbands to honour the 1966 World Cup winner.
The teams are out! United wear their red and white stripes, while City sport first-choice sky blue. Both shirts feature poppies in remembrance of the fallen. It’s extremely rainy and windy in Sheffield this lunchtime. No pre-match word from Chris Wilder, though BT Sport carried an interview in which he promised his team will “keep punching”. The bell rings in a minute or two.
Here’s Sid Lowe on the man leading Manchester City’s line today.
Pep’s pre-match pow-wow. “We have to be more consistent in many games to make sure we are on the right path. It is not easy to attack a defence with five at the back and a lot of people in the middle. For the striker it is most difficult. Ferran Torres did really well [against Marseille] and we try again. We know the quality of Sheffield United. The position in the table is what it is, but we know the quality two seasons ago in the Championship and last season in the Premier League, so we have no doubts. We are in the beginning of the season and they are going to get results in the future.”
Sheffield United make one change from the XI that lost narrowly at Anfield. Max Lowe replaces John Lundstram in midfield. Lundstram, who has refused to sign a new contract, drops to the bench.
Manchester City make three changes to the team that breezed past Marseille in midweek. Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez come in for Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden, all of whom are on the bench. Kevin De Bruyne makes his first league start since the draw at Leeds four weeks ago. Sergio Aguero remains out with a hamstring injury.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, Egan, Stevens, Baldock, Berge, Ampadu, Osborn, Lowe, Brewster, McBurnie.
Subs: Lundstram, Sharp, Burke, Norwood, McGoldrick, Robinson, Verrips.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Torres, Sterling.
Subs: Stones, Ake, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Carson, Foden, Garcia.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
It’s way too early to be panicking. Even so, both teams could do with a positive result this afternoon. Sheffield United still don’t have a victory to their name this season, and they’re currently second bottom, but it’s not as though they’ve been playing particularly badly: it wouldn’t have needed too much to change last Saturday at Anfield for the Blades to have taken all three points off the champions. They haven’t beaten Manchester City in the league since 2000, but breaking that run is far from a pipe dream, given City’s uncertain display at West Ham last week, and the way Chris Wilder’s side made them work for a single-goal victory here last season.
As for City? They won’t be desperate for victory … but potentially slipping further behind the leading pack won’t appeal. Pep Guardiola’s men are again coming off the back of an excellent result in Europe, this time a comfortable 3-0 stroll in Marseille, but their domestic form hasn’t sparkled quite as brightly, and they haven’t won away in the Premier League since the opening day at Wolves. They’re favourites to prevail here … though if they ship the opening goal things could get interesting, because City have failed to win any of their last seven away matches in which they’ve fallen behind.
The table’s set for a delicious lunchtime treat, then … with both a United and City win more than possible, plus everything in between. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.