Sheffield United suffer rare reverse
Sheffield United slipped to seventh in the Championship standings after suffering a rare recent reverse, losing 1-0 at Millwall last weekend. The Blades had not conceded a goal in their previous five matches and were fairly comfortable in the first half but were undone from a set-piece as Lions defender Jake Cooper stooped to score in the second-half.
It consigned United to a first defeat in 10 matches and dealt a blow to their play-off hopes. Although head coach Paul Heckingbottom insisted the Blades had not been "out-fought", he did suggest a lack of care and attention had been partly to blame.
Heckingbottom said: "The little things, the small details that have been helping us to get the wins, they are so important. If you don't do them, or do them properly, then it makes things more difficult in what is already a really difficult league. Those small things are what have been getting us the points and so we've really got to concentrate on doing those."
Forest back to winning ways
Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways last weekend, pocketing a 2-0 triumph at home to Bristol City. After overseeing successive draws, boss Steve Cooper demanded an improvement in performance following a flat display in a goalless stalemate to Preston previously, and the Reds delivered a terrific team display, deservedly taking the points.
Brennan Johnson's first-half strike put Forest in front in a commanding display at a rocking City Ground. On-loan James Garner doubled the lead 10 minutes after the break from Max Lowe's teasing cutback and the hosts were rarely threatened throughout with the visitors conjuring up a solitary shot on-target and only five attempts at goal across the contest.
And Cooper was delighted with his side's reaction. He said: "It was a really good performance - we know if we can play like that we'll win games. We probably should have scored one or two more, but I'm not complaining about that because we didn't look under the cosh at any stage. I thought we looked fit, strong and confident and I liked our attitude."
Sheffield United have tabled only five victories from their last 21 league match-ups against Nottingham Forest with the draw paying-out on 10 occasions since 2001/02. But the Blades have enjoyed slight supremacy in their Bramall Lane battles, losing just once in their nine encounters during that same sample (W3-D5-L1) with the stalemate again prevalent.
Sheffield United 2.0811/10 are one of the form teams in the second-tier right now with the Blades bagging top honours in 10 of their last 16 Championship contests, including five of their last six at Bramall Lane (W5-D1-L0). Paul Heckingbottom's charges have silenced 11 of their past league 16 opponents and haven't conceded a home goal since October.
Nottingham Forest 4.003/1 sit second in the Championship based on results since Steve Cooper took charge (W13-D8-L4). Three of the four defeats have come against top-eight rivals with the Reds returning W4-D5-L7 when facing top-half teams across the whole campaign. The guests have W7-D5-L4 on their travels, leaking just 13 away goals.
Sheffield United have undoubtedly improved defensively since Paul Heckingbottom took charge of proceedings, and with the Blades excelling at the back, combined with Nottingham Forest's own rearguard improvements, Friday night's fixture understandably produces a low-goal expectancy. Therefore, Under 2.5 Goals at 1.758/11 has to be considered.
Under 2.5 has paid out in 14 of United's 19 Championship dates going back to late October, whilst Forest have followed suit in 12 of their own 19 league encounters across the same timeframe.
Collectively, the pair have kept clean sheets in 20 of those combined 38 fixtures, conceding multiple goals in just seven games, highlighting their defensive strengths.
Mark's 2021/22 Profit/Loss
<p>Staked: 92 pts</p>
<p>Returned: 97.90 pts</p>
<p>P/L: +5.90 pts</p>