Sheffield United v QPR
Monday December 13, 19:45
Blades bag third successive victory
Sheffield United made it three successive Championship victories last weekend as the Blades came from behind to beat Cardiff 3-2 in the Welsh capital. Trailing 1-0 at the interval, Paul Heckingbottom's team were reenergised following the red card of Bluebirds skipper Sean Morrison with Morgan Gibbs-White cracking home a brilliant equaliser from 25-yards.
Veteran striker Billy Sharp put United ahead and soon after David McGoldrick's goal looked to have made the points safe. But Cardiff struck back late on to set up a grandstand finish with the Blades holding firm to secure back-to-back wins under Heckingbottom's watch, moving Sheff Utd into the top-half for the first time this term.
Speaking post-match, Heckingbottom said: "We deserved to win, definitely. I was angry at half-time as we had plenty of chances and we went behind on their big threat (a set piece) - something we had been working at all week. We changed things around when they went down to 10 men, and it worked well for us. I was pleased with how we responded."
QPR fire a first blank
QPR failed to score for the first time in 31 Championship matches as Mark Warburton's men suffered a rare home reverse to Stoke in their most recent Championship encounter. The R's dominated possession and territory, peppering the Potters' goal with 24 attempts at goal, but Charlie Austin's missed penalty was as close as they got to a goal in a 2-0 defeat.
Injuries are beginning to bite for the West Londoners, who were unable to fill their substitutes bench against Stoke. Striker Lyndon Dykes and wing-backs Lee Wallace, Albert Adomah, Sam McCallum and Moses Odubajo are among those sidelined with Sam Field asked to fill-in at left wing-back. None of the injured players are due back for Monday.
Mark Warburton wants to bring in new signings when the transfer window reopens next month and said, "Injuries hurt here. We've lost four wing-backs and had six players out. "We were light, but that's the Championship and you have to deal with it. "I just felt today that in the final third we lacked that little bit of real guile to go and win the game."
Sheffield United and QPR have returned an equal W5-D4-L5 split in head-to-head match-ups going back to 2004/05, although the Blades have bossed the most recent meetings, picking up top honours in each of the last three duels. United have also claimed W4-D1-L1 in Bramall Lane outings against the R's, winning the past two renewals here on home soil.
Sheff Utd 1.9010/11 have arguably been the Championship's biggest underachievers. However, the Blades are beginning to find form. Expected Points (xP) ratings suggest the hosts have been the fifth best team in the division with United also returning the third-highest xP figure since September's international break. The home side have W8-D3-L5 in that sequence.
QPR 4.507/2 boast the best point return of any ever-present Championship club across the calendar year and the Super Hoops have tabled an impressive W10-D5-L4 excluding the runaway top-three this term. Mark Warburton's men have produced their best work on home soil, although the R's have W4-D2-L1 on their travels when excluding the top-three.
Sheffield United have collected three shutouts in their past four fixtures, with the Blades amongst the division's elite for Expected Goals (xG) against over the past eight encounters. So whilst Bramall Lane results have remained inconsistent, the home side have continued to produce relatively solid defensive efforts with half of their 10 tussles going Under 2.5 Goals.
QPR, though, have been involved in the second-highest goals per-game during away matches. Rangers' road trips are producing 3.40 goals on average with eight breaking the Over 2.5 Goals 1.855/6 barrier. The same 80% hit-rate has landed for Both Teams To Score backers - a repeat should give punters a good run for their money at 1.738/11.
But we can bolster the odds on offer to 2.0811/10 by entering the Bet Builder and playing Both Teams To Score and Under 4.5 Goals - the wager is effectively backing a 1-1 or 2-2 draw, as well as a 2-1 or 3-1 success for either side.