Chris Wilder believes Sheffield United’s record against the top clubs this season offers his team encouragement as they prepare to face reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side are the only one the Blades have yet to play in what is their first top-flight campaign for 12 years.
Wilder’s men have fared well against the other big teams, beating Arsenal and drawing with Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, while only suffering narrow one-goal defeats to Leicester and Liverpool.
It has seen the Blades accumulate a points tally that will see them head to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in at least eighth place in the table and Wilder insists they go there with no fear.
“I don’t think it’s a fluke the position we’re in and the points we have,” said the Blades boss.
“Our mindset has always been; we will respect you but we are going to have a go and we are going to test you and try to push you back, and accept you will try to do the same to us.
“We’ve gone toe-to-toe with everyone in the division so far, and I’m proud of that, and we will try to do the same on Sunday when we can. We did it against Liverpool here (at Bramall Lane).
“There’s not many people that will give us a chance of getting a result, except for the people within our dressing room. But we have to believe we can get something from the game and we will be doing our best to do that. However, we really understand what we’re up against.
“We will have to have a lot of things go in our favour and play at the top of our game, but it won’t be the biggest result in the history of football if we go over there and manage to get a result of some sort.”
City’s defence of their Premier League title appears over after defeat at Wolves on Friday night left the champions 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, who also have a game in hand.
Guardiola’s team have already lost five matches this season, which is just one fewer than the total they lost in the past two title-winning campaigns combined.
However, Wilder insists it is not a fall from grace.
“Not at all. They have world class players and one of the best managers of the last 10 years or so who organises them and gets them to play to an unbelievable level,” said Wilder.
“Manchester City are in their position by merit as one of the leading lights of European football and world football and the standards they have set, and continue to set, are unbelievable.”
Wilder could freshen up his team at the Etihad Stadium, with the likes of Lys Mousset, Callum Robinson, Luke Freeman and Mo Besic all options.
The Blades boss is monitoring a couple of injured players following the home draw with Watford but he stopped short of naming those concerned.