Two teams looking to get closer to the top two and an automatic place in the Premier League face off on Friday night in a pivotal Championship clash pitting Bristol City and Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England 08 Dec 2017 7:45 pm (GMT)
Key Stat: Sheffield's downturn in form has them averaging out as the 11th best team over the last five matches.
Expert Verdict: Two teams with serious aspirations of moving to the Premier League meet here. I''s still early in the season, but both teams know that the festive period is around the corner and that the games are about to pile on. This means that both of these sides, relatively smaller in budget and squad, need to get points now. Bristol City look to be in better form at the moment, and they should just edge it.
Chris Wilder will looks set to have a full side to pick from for this huge Championship clash between two Premier League hopefuls.
It's been a captivating start to the Championship season for Sheffield United, and it has largely been led by a strong striking core. Billy Sharp and others have been strong in front of the goal, but Leon Clarke has been exceptional. The Championship's top scorer with 13 goals ahead of the weekend will look to lead the line and get back on the score sheet after a bit of a lull of late for his side.
Sheffield United have two losses, a draw, and two wins in their last five matches:
3-1 loss at Millwall
1-1 home draw vs Birmingham City
4-5 home loss vs Fulham
1-3 win at Burton Albion
4-1 home win vs Hull City
Defenders:Stearman, Carter-Vickers, O'Connell
Midfielders:Basham, Fleck, Duffy, Lundstram, Stevens
Lee Johnson will be without hamstrung right back Eros Pisano.
Much of Bristol City's play this season has been down to the play of Bobby Reid, but they have another man that has done a lot for their cause in striker Jamie Paterson. The 25 year old has scored just three goals, including one at home to Middlesbrough in the win last weekend, but he has five assists to his name to show he is a great team player and a man capable of winning them points in a number of ways.
Bristol City have three wins, a loss, and a draw in their last five matches:
2-1 home win vs Middlesbrough
2-3 win at Hull City
1-2 home loss vs Preston North End
0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday
2-1 home win vs Cardiff City
Defenders:Wright, Flint, Baker, Magnusson
Defensive Midfielders:Pack, Smith
Attacking Midfielders:Brownhill, Reid, Bryan
Sheffield United have faced Bristol City 26 times down the years. The two clubs haven't met in the Championship since 2011, so it's amazing to see both of them fighting toward the top. Overall, United have 15 wins, four draws, and seven losses against City. Here's a look at the last five results:
Feb 14, 2015: City 1-3 United (League One)
Aug 9, 2014: United 1-2 City (LEO)
Feb 22, 2014: United 3-0 City (LEO)
Nov 23, 2013: City 0-1 United (LEO)
Apr 23, 2011: United 3-2 City (Championship)
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Sheffield United are at 11/10 to win, a draw is at 11/4, and a Bristol City win is at 5/2.
Ahead of this match, the situation is a great one for both teams. Even with Sheffield United's lack of for recently, they are still very much in the fight for the playoff places, and on the outside of the automatic slots. Both teams have 37 points ahead of this match, and Bristol only edge their hosts due to goal difference for third place. Each of them are six points off second placed Cardiff and a full ten off of leaders Wolves. They are each five points above seventh place Ipswich.
In home matches this season, Sheffield United rank as the third best team in the division, and they are only behind Wolves and Cardiff, naturally. The Blades have won seven times, drawn once, and lost twice at Bramall Lane so far this season in the Championship. As for their visitors, Bristol have been brilliant away from home. They have the second best record, and have only been bested by nearly unbeatable Wolves. They have five wins, four draws, and just one loss in the league so far and they have not lost any of their last five matches away from home- including four wins.
Both teams to score is at 8/13 via Ladbrokes.
Sheffield United's form has taken a nose dive of late, and they need to sort it out soon. Unfortunately for them, they are facing one of the best away teams in the league and they might just fall to them here.