We’re in the middle of March, and it feels like there is still a long way of the season to go. There are still many games left of nail biting opportunities, but after tomorrow’s Yorkshire Derby between Leeds United and Sheffield United at Ellend Road, only 8 Championship fixtures will remain.
Leeds United will be looking to complete the double over the Blades, having won 0-1 at Bramall Lane last December, and forge a solid gap between the two clubs. Currently on two points separate second and third placed spots, and a Blades win would see them leapfrog over their Yorkshire rivals.
United’s Championship form has been very consistent, in particular at home. Chris Wilder’s side have yet to concede a league goal at Bramall Lane since Boxing Day, and since drawing 2-2 at Norwich City on 26 January, the S2 club a nine match unbeaten run.
The Blades travel to West Yorkshire with an injury-free squad, with only suspended Gary Madine unavailable. The on-loan Cardiff striker was dismissed in the Blades fine performance against Brentford last Tuesday night, which led to a 2-0 victory. Madine was shown a straight red card midway through the first half and will now miss vital matches against Leeds tomorrow, Bristol City (30 March) and Preston North End (6 April), and won’t be made available until 10 April when United travel to Birmingham City.
Chris Wilder is likely to make changes with skipper Billy Sharp returning against his old club, and goal-hero David McGoldrick playing alongside him, with Scott Hogan and possibly a return for Conor Washington on the substitutes bench.
Since being defeated by a single goal at QPR on 26 February, the Whites have recorded three straight victories over West Brom, Bristol City, and at Reading in midweek.
Marcelo Bielsa could field the same eleven which won 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday, though winger Jack Clarke may return after recovering from a long period of illness.
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Sheffield United have done well to come through a bout of ‘local derbies’ in quick succession, with the trip to Leeds completing the third in four matches. Leeds have ‘finally’ proven to be no push over’s this season, with next season’s Premier League likely to see at least one Yorkshire side represented with promotion from the Championship.
United ought to go with the mentality of making sure that this game doesn’t end in defeat; otherwise play-offs will look the likeliest of targets. A victory would be an awesome feather in Wilder’s cap, and all supporters know that his side will be set out to win.
With so much at stake at this stage in the season we would expect a tense but fiery atmosphere.