Bitter rivals Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday meet on Friday night for the 130th Steel City derby. Mark O'Haire previews the mouthwatering match from Bramall Lane.
"No Championship club has conceded as many shots, in the box attempts or on-target efforts as Wednesday, whilst the away side have scored 10 of their 21-goal tally via shots from outside the penalty area or penalties"
Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday
Friday November 9, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Sheffield United aiming to bounce back
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said his Blades side were punished for being "average" after they lost their position at the top of the Championship following a meek 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend. In a contest shorn of genuine goalscoring opportunities and just three on-target efforts.
John Egan came closest for United, heading wide from a first-half corner, and Wilder was clearly frustrated post-match, claiming: "It seems we have to play at our maximum to get a result, and when we don't we are an average side. It's something we need to address because it's happened four or five times."
The hosts have been handed a boost as Mark Duffy is expected to return from injury in time for Friday night's fixture having missed the last two games. Defender Chris Basham will also be available for the Blades after serving his one-match suspension.
Sheffield Wednesday tumbling down the table
Booing Sheffield Wednesday fans chanted the names of out-of-favour duo Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson after watching Norwich thrash the Owls 4-0 at Hillsborough last Saturday. Jos Luhukay's shaky side were second-best throughout, putting in a performance that lacked confidence and cohesion.
Wednesday goalkeeper Cameron Dawson saved an early penalty but was helpless as the Owls conceded three goals in 10-minute spell soon after half time, before his own error allowed Norwich to complete the rout late on. The defeat increases the pressure on Luhukay, who admitted the display was "not good enough".
Key players Fernando Forestieri and Marco Matias both remain sidelined for the visitors, while Sam Winnall is still a number of weeks away from full fitness. Elsewhere, Joost van Aken is edging closer to a first-team return and player of the month Michael Hector should return after being surprisingly dropped last time out.
Blades short-priced favourites
Sheffield United [1.55] picked up four points in their first campaign back at this level against their city rivals last season and Chris Wilder's charges have been chalked up as clear favourites to enhance that recent record here. The Blades have lost just once at Bramall Lane against their neighbours since 1967.
United have W17-D7-L7 as Championship hosts since promotion, including a W5-D2-L1 home return this term. The majority of the Blades' fine form has been backed up by impressive performances too; only Millwall average more touches in the box than United, as the Blades boast a 59% shots inside the box ratio.
Sheffield Wednesday [7.40] arrive on the back of four consecutive defeats, with the Owls shipping 12 goals in the process. Jos Luhukay's guests have been beaten in five of their eight away days, conceding twice or more on five occasions. The visitors are sitting in the bottom-three for all the major performance data metrics.
In fact, no Championship club has conceded as many shots, in the box attempts or on-target efforts as Wednesday, while the away side have scored 10 of their 21-goal tally via shots from outside the penalty area or penalties. Therefore, there's no desire to support the out-of-form Owls on Friday night.
United to edge crunch clash
Across the past 10 seasons when Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have locked horns, at least one of the two encounters featured Over 2.5 Goals and a repeat can be backed at [1.85]. All bar three of the Owls' outings this term have paid Over 2.5 Goals backers, with five of the Blades' home fixtures following suit.
However, I'm happier entering Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi markets and backing a Sheffield United win alongside Over 1.5 Goals at [1.85]. Eleven of the hosts' past 12 home wins have featured more than a solitary strike, as well as eight of nine overall league triumphs this term.
Wednesday have conceded at least two goals in all seven of their Championship losses in 2018/19, while 14 of their latest 16 road trips under Jos Luhukay's watch produced two goals or more.
Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss
Staked: 64.00 pts
Returned: 80.07 pts
P/L: +16.07 pts