Sheffield United will be looking to earn another big three points this weekend as they take on promotion rivals West Brom.
The Baggies earned a late win against QPR in midweek to join the title race and now the men from Bramall Lane will be looking to try and knock them back a bit.
Ahead of the game, we spoke to Martin Fox of S24SU.com to preview the clash…
1. Wilder has hopes for Baldock, O’Connell and Basham this weekend – can you see any/all starting this one?
Providing Baldock’s injury isn’t worse than first appeared, I think all three will be back in the starting lineup. Whilst we’ve done well without them and it’s, therefore, a little harsh on those who’ve stepped in for them, Wilder isn’t one for sentiment for sentiment’s sake and the settled back line was consistent for a reason.
I’d imagine it’s fairly likely that Dowell will replace Duffy in midfield, as seems to be a common change in the way we lineup away from home.
2. Is the title race now a four-way thing?
Looking at the points difference, it looks fairly likely, but it’s a competitive league with teams capable of going on a run of form and putting themselves into contention.
I’ve thought for some time that it would be likely West Brom would be involved and a late win on Tuesday saw them remain a point behind the Blades and Leeds, three behind Norwich. Even the goal difference is fairly tight between the top sides.
There is a mixture of perceived difficulties of run-ins, with Norwich’s looking the most favourable, but you never know towards the back end of the season, with sides fighting for survival, sides suddenly picking up when the pressure is off and others seeming already on the beach – this tends to produce a few more interesting results.
3. A huge trip to West Brom this weekend, should previous performances against title rivals boost hopes though?
This will be a tough fixture, but we fear no-one. If you want to be promoted, you have to target wins in every game you play and one feature of Wilder’s side in form is a relentlessness.
Every game is important and whilst we say as much every few games, we’ve got a key run of games coming up playing both West Brom and Leeds, with a couple of local derbies against Wednesday and Rotherham in the next five.
Whilst there is a decent buffer between us and 7th place, in order to stay in the automatic spots, we’ll need to get a decent points haul. There will be no securing a top two place for sure this month, but we could make life a lot more difficult for ourselves if we don’t keep picking up points.
4. Who can you see Wilder starting up top here?
It sounds a bit more of a selection dilemma coming off the back of a 4-0 win last week, when we left 34 goals on the bench with Sharp and McGoldrick.
I would think Wilder will start with Madine and Sharp, with the form the latter’s in, you simply can’t leave him out of a game of this magnitude. Madine has impressed with hard-working performances giving us a different type of outlet and causing headaches for the opposition defenders.
He’s a little stronger and physical than some of our other options and I think he’ll therefore likely be used more often in this kind of fixture, it’s also difficult to drop a player that scored a brace last time out!
5. Score prediction
I think it’s a tough one to call and will be a tight game, i’m hoping for a 2-1 win for the Blades, but could just as easily see a score draw.