Sheffield United welcome the Addicks to Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon. The traveling side will be looking to build on an impressive and united display in the second half against Bradford City on Tuesday evening. However, the Blades will want all three points to get closer to becoming Champions of League One before the season is even over.
The rumours of quiet rumblings behind the scenes at Charlton Athletic with a potential takeover in the works is far from what the traveling fans and players will be focusing on come Saturday afternoon. The Addicks will be traveling to Bramall Lane confident after a second-half performance which was most definitely the best football they have played all season. Karl Robinson will be reminding the Red Army that Charlton have only lost to one team this season who occupy a top six position. The team that was able to beat the Addicks is South London rivals, Millwall. Unfortunately, Charlton Athletic have still not beaten Millwall since 1996.
Sheffield United enter this fixture unbeaten in eight, with three wins and two draws in their last five fixtures. Chris Wilder’s side sit at the pinnacle of Sky Bet League One with 75 points, with a comfortable eight point gap between them and second place Fleetwood Town. The Blades are on track to finally leave the depths of League One to enter the second tier of English football, the opportunity crafted by ruthless and powerful strikers, notably Billy Sharp, and a creative attacking midfield.
These two sides last faced each other on the 26th November 2016. In fact, it was the last game that interim manager, Kevin Nugent, commanded before handing over the manageral reigns to current manager, Karl Robinson.
The first goal came from the traveling Blades in the 32nd minute. A free kick and set play exercise off the training pitch, left the Charlton defence static and in shock. In fact, some could have described what they saw by Charlton’s defending of that set piece as a renactment of a manneqin celebration.
John Fleck played a short free kick to Mark Duffy inside the box, who launched a shot from the right side of the penalty area passed Dillon Phillips.
Deep into stoppage time, Patrick Bauer equalised after meeting Adam Chicksen’s cross, bundling the ball home to ensure the Addicks rescued a point.
Leon Clarke has returned back to training, but is unlikely to feature in Wilder’s squad as he regains fitness and match sharpness. To add to returning players who had significant injuries, Harry Chapman has returned from injury and featured on the bench against Swindon on Tuesday night and is likely to feature in Wilder’s squad against Charlton on Saturday. Meanwhile, Joe Riley will be unavailable as he is ruled out for the rest of the season due to serious injury.
Mark Duffy should feature in the starting XI after missing the last two fixtures against Swindon and Oxford United. Meanwhile, Wilder could decide to start Jake Wright as he made an impressive appearance of the bench on Tuesday night. Lastly, forward, Caolan Lavery came off on Tuesday night injured, but is likely to feature against the Addicks.
Robinson will be unable to field Lewis Page on Saturday afternoon after he picked up a serious hamstring issue on Tuesday night against Bradford. Chelsea loanee Jay Da Silva could feature as part of the Starting XI for the first time since signing for Charlton in January, replacing Page at left back.
Chris Solly and Harry Lennon have returned to training, but will be unavailable as they nurse their injuries and continue recovery. Also, the Northern Irish striker, Josh Magennis will be unavailable for similar reasons. The January signing, Jake Forster-Caskey came off the bench on Tuesday evening, which means if deemed fit enough after recovering from recent injury, Robinson will likely start the new signing. Charlton academy starlet, Joe Aribo did not feature midweek which makes him a concern to whether or not Robinson will risk bringing the youngster to Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Lastly, Nathan Byrne was absent midweek but is possible to be part of the squad on Saturday, and centre back Jason Pearce could feature on the bench, returning to the match day squad for the first time since December.
Expected Starting XIs:
Charlton (4-4-2): Phillips – Da Silva, Teixeira, Bauer, Chicksen – Holmes, Konsa, Ulvestad, Botaka – Novak, Watt
Sheffield United (3-4-1-2): Moore – Basham, Wright, O’Connell – Freeman, Couts, Fleck, Lafferty – Duffy – Sharp, Lavery
Charlton and Sheffield United are both sides which like to play attacking football, and as a result have a record of leaking goals. However, the difference in this competition will come down to the calibre of players in the final third, and simply the Blades win that fight.
Therefore, I think the final score will be 3-1 to Sheffield United.