It’s the Steel Derby in week 17 of the English Championship to start off the football weekend with a bang. Sheffield Wednesday travel to the Bramall Lane to face 3rd place Sheffield United in what should be cracking derby match. The bragging rights belong to United this season with the 14 places between them and Wednesday and they will be aiming to rub their noses in it come Friday night. United are contending for promotion this year and a win here will lift them to the top of the table until Leeds and Norwich play their weekend games.
Wednesday have lost their last 4 championship games in a row and are looking like a team fighting to stay in the Championship rather than win promotion to the Premier League. Jos Luhukay’s side put in a woeful performance last week in their 0-4 loss to Norwich and will heading into this contest completely ragged and devoid of confidence. Despite goalkeeper Cameron Dawson saving a penalty early on, the Owls went on to concede 3 goals in 10 crazy minutes before the break before Dawson’s mistake meant the Canaries ran out 4-0 winners late on. Sheffield Wednesday have conceded 12 goals in the last 4 games and 13 in the last six.
No club in the Sky Bet Championship have conceded more shots on goal or attempts in the box as Wednesday while their oppositions have also scored 10 out of 21 goals against them from penalties or shots outside the penalty area.
Sheffield United aren’t in an overly superior form either with 2 losses, 1 win and a draw from their last 4 games. However, these losses have come against teams in better positions than Wednesday and arguably better teams as well – Derby, Stoke and Nottingham Forest. Chris Wilder’s side are a high scoring outfit with only West Brom and Leeds scoring more than the 27 goals they bagged this season. The Blades have a decent home record with 5 wins and 2 draws from the last 7 home games in the Championship. Last week’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest was their second defeat in the last 9 and meant they relinquished top spot in the league to Leeds. United captain Billy Sharp scored a hat-trick in their last home win – a 4-2 win over Wigan, and is the Championship’s second top scorer. He is United’s go-to-guy and will raring to put one past Wednesday on Friday.
Jake Wright and Kean Bryan are long-term absentees for United while Mark Duffy’s readiness will be assessed due to hip injury. Chris Basham is unavailable due to suspension.
For Wednesday, Gary Hopper and Kieran Lee are out till the turn of the year while Joost Van Aken and Sam Winnall are at least a fortnight away due to ankle and hamstring injuries respectively. Marco Matias is doubt for this fixture due to a hamstring injury while Fernando Forestieri who also has a hamstring injury is quite close to return.
Form goes out of the window when a derby is played and United’s 3rd position on the table and their relatively better form may count for little if they fail to be possessed by the passion and spirit of a derby. Nonetheless, Wednesday’s defence looks quite weak to stop a free-scoring United attack. Sheffield United should pull through to win this game.