12 Jan The Championship – Sheffield United Vs Sheffield Wednesday
Fans of both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday will be steeling themselves for the first derby at Bramall Lane in over six years, as the Yorkshire pair meet in the Championship on Friday evening.
Clashes between the pair have been few and far between in recent years – this is the first season since 2011/12 that both Sheffield sides have been in the same division, with United languishing in League One.
However, they have been on an upward trajectory under highly-rated boss Chris Wilder, winning promotion last season and getting off to an excellent start to life in the second-tier, sitting top midway through November after 12 wins from their first 17 games.
One of those victories was a 4-2 victory at Hillsborough in September in a pulsating game that saw them squander an early 2-0 lead, before second-half goals from Leon Clarke and Mark Duffy saw them secure the three points.
A remarkable 5-4 defeat to Fulham has proved to be an unwelcome turning point, however, with the Blades winning just one of their last nine league matches, slipping to 7th.
Available at 4/5 for a Sheffield United win, Wilder will hope the feisty atmosphere of a derby can help turn their poor run around.
While United weren’t expected to be in the promotion mix, Wednesday certainly were, and the 2016 play-off finalists’ current position of 16th is a major underachievement.
Boss Carlos Carvalhal was shown the door on Christmas Eve (though he did receive a promotion of his own, landing Premier League Swansea’s job), and former Stuttgart manager Jos Luhukay is set to take charge here for the first time.
Wednesday have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions, and as such, are real outsiders in the betting, at 4/1 for this one.
The match between these two earlier this season saw a see-saw game with both sides throwing everything they had at the other.
Despite being out of form, Wednesday certainly have the firepower to hit the back of the net in strikers Jordan Rhodes, Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher, while United’s top-scorer Clarke has 15 already in this campaign.
Under the lights, in what should be an electric atmosphere, we can certainly see goals here again.
With both sides out of form, it’s tricky to pick a winner – instead, we could see a repeat of their last meeting on this ground, with a 2-2 draw available to back at 14/1.