Runaway Championship league leaders Wolves look to take a step closer to the Premier League on Saturday evening when Sheffield United visit Molineux. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"The Old Gold boast a 69% win ratio in Championship action under Nuno whilst returning a strong W10-D2-L2 at Molineux this term."
Wolves v Sheffield United
Saturday 3rd February, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports
Wolves extend advantage at the top
Wolves moved 12 points clear at the top of the Championship with victory over Ipswich at Portman Road last weekend. Full-back Matt Doherty headed in to give the Old Gold a deserved half-time lead with Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves both denied further goals by the brilliance of Bartosz Bialkowski in the Town goal.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side spent a week at a warm weather training camp in Spain following their home loss to Nottingham Forest in their previous match. That defeat ended a 13-match unbeaten Championship run (W10-D3-L0), but Wolves shrugged off that disappointment to register a 20th league win of the season.
Romain Saiss missed out with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Alfred N'Diaye, who gave an impressive performance in central midfield. N'Diaye is now likely to keep his place in the starting XI with Wolves able to field an almost fully fit and available squad on Saturday.
Blades blunted of late
Robert Snodgrass' last-minute winner saw Sheffield United suffer an agonising home defeat to promotion rivals Aston Villa on Tuesday night. The Blades had dominated the first-half and saw Jack O'Connell's header cannon back off the crossbar while Villa keeper Sam Johnstone was also called into regular action.
United started in industrious fashion, but were made to pay for first-half profligacy. Chris Wilder was relatively upbeat post-match but admitted his newly-promoted team had suffered a sucker-punch having rarely been threatened by a timid Villa outfit.
The reverse leaves the Blades seventh in the table, two points adrift of Fulham in sixth but with only two triumphs in their last 12 matches. Meanwhile, David Brooks, Kieron Freeman and Paul Coutts all remain sidelined.
Hard to oppose hot Wolves
Wolves have been made fair [1.79] favourites to pocket maximum points on Saturday night and it's a price well worth snapping up. The Old Gold boast a 69% win ratio in Championship action under Nuno whilst returning a strong W10-D2-L2 at Molineux this term.
The hosts have W7-D1-L1 when welcoming top-half teams to the Black Country, scoring at least three goals in half of those encounters, and the Spanish sun seems to have rejuvenated the side, working wonders for squad morale.
Sheffield United [5.10] claimed victory at Norwich in their most recent road trip although half of the Blades' six away victories since promotion have arrived at the current bottom-three. Chris Wilder's charges have been beaten in six of their 11 meetings when excluding Bolton, Burton and Sunderland from the equation.
Goals totals tough to call
Only seven (50%) of Wolves' 14 Molineux matches have surpassed the Over 2.5 Goals [1.99] line this season as the table-toppers have silenced half of their guests. However, the hosts have notched at least two goals here on eight occasions, passing the Over 2.5 Goals line on their own in five of those fixtures.
Sheffield United have only once kept their sheets clean away from Bramall Lane but the Blades have managed to strike in 10 of their 14 road trips. A healthy 8/14 (57%) have featured three or more goals while 9/14 (64%) have paid out for Both Teams To Score backers.
Still, only one of the visitors' last five contests has provided Over 2.5 Goals profit with United failing to score in three of those five showdowns. The long-term injury to Paul Coutts certainly seems to have affected the Blades with the visitors notching no more than a solitary strike in eight of their last 12 matches (W2-D4-L6).
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 107.00 pts
Returned: 119.22 pts
P/L: +12.22 pts
Back Wolves to win @ [1.79] in Wolves v Sheffield United