Unlikely promotion challengers Sheffield United and Bristol City lock horns at Bramall Lane on Friday night. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Bristol City [3.40] have bagged five Championship wins in seven and haven't been beaten on their travels since their opening away fixture of the season. The Robins have held league leaders Wolves on their own patch and their W5-D4-L0 recent run on the road marks them out as excellent [2.56] shots in the Draw No Bet market."
Sheffield United v Bristol City
Friday 8th December, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
United looking to bounce back from Den disappointment
Sheffield United topped the Championship table towards the end of October but boss Chris Wilder has told his players they must respond to their shock defeat by Millwall last time out or risk blowing a golden opportunity to reach the Premier League.
The Blades have slipped to fourth - six points behind second-placed Cardiff - after losing 3-1 at The Den, a result that led to Wilder excoriating his troops for the manner of their display, accusing them of letting down supporters and betraying the principles which delivered the League One title last term.
The season-ending injury to influential midfielder Paul Coutts has certainly cost United a touch of stability and Wilder opted for a 3-5-1-1 formation in the capital with Mark Duffy dictating matters. A similar approach is expected here although Billy Sharp is likely to return with starlet David Brooks possibly dropping out.
Bristol City moved into third after claiming a sixth success in eight to see off Middlesbrough 2-1 in last Saturday's live televised affair from Ashton Gate. The Robins produced a fine second-half performance with Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson grabbing the goals in a four-minute spell.
City fired in double the shots of Garry Monk's visitors across the course of the game, and seven times as many shots on-target, with the Teesiders only able to hit the target once during the game, Hordur Magnusson's own goal aside. Lee Johnson was understandably pleased with another superbly stout defensive display.
However, winger Jamie Paterson was forced off with 10 minutes to play and is now rated doubtful for Friday night's fixture. Youngster Niclas Eliasson will be on be stand-by if Paterson misses out.
Since taking top spot in the second-tier, Sheffield United [2.20] have W2-D2-L2 despite facing six sides that currently occupy the bottom 10 positions in the Championship. The loss at Millwall was the Blades' third straight poor result.
All three below-par performances have arrived since Coutts' injury, which is beginning to look like more than just coincidence. The hosts have also struggled defensively of late with United recording a sole shutout in their last eight.
Bristol City [3.40] have bagged five Championship wins in seven and haven't been beaten on their travels since their opening away fixture of the season. The Robins have held league leaders Wolves on their own patch and their W5-D4-L0 recent run on the road marks them out as excellent [2.56] shots in the Draw No Bet market.
An entertaining affair is expected at Bramall Lane. United may have failed to register a second-half shot on-target at The Den last week but the Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp partnership has brought 21 goals this season with the hosts firing blanks in just four outings since promotion.
Nevertheless, the Blades boast the worst defensive record of any of the top-six and so Both Teams To Score stands out at [1.69]. It's a selection that's occurred in nine of United's last 10, as well as each of their most recent four here.
City haven't silenced any side higher than Sheffield Wednesday in 12th and the Robins' contests against the league's leading lights tend to produce goals. Indeed, City have seen nine of their past 10 with top-half teams feature successful BTTS selections, eight of which also banked for Over 2.5 Goals players.
Staked: 193.00 pts
Returned: 214.85 pts
P/L: +21.85 pts