Sheffield United host City rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City derby on Friday with both sides looking to recover from recent dips in form. Sheffield United have won just one of their last four matches after winning all of their previous four matches, while Sheffield Wednesday have won just one of their last seven Championship matches and have lost all of their last four.
Despite the recent blip, Chris Wilder’s side have made an impressive start to the season sitting in third place in the league with 29 points from their opening 16 matches. The Blades are the divisions third highest scorers having registered 27 goals so far, with only 7th placed West Bromwich Albion and league leaders Leeds United scoring more frequently. They have also recorded the joint most wins, nine so far, and have highlighted their improvement from last season, which saw them finish in 10th place six points adrift of the play-offs, in their ability to find different ways of winning games when not at their fluent best.
However, last weekends narrow 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest knocked United off the top of the league, and was their second loss in four matches, after just three defeats in their opening 12 games. The Sheffield derby could be an ideal opportunity for The Blades to regain their form and maintain their challenge at the top of the table.
Sheffield Wednesday head into the fixture with questions starting to be asked of their recent performances and of manager Jos Luhukay. Luhukay, who took over from Carlos Carvalhal after a run of just one win in 11 midway through last season, took charge of his first Championship game for The Owls at Brammall Lane in a goalless draw in January. The former Hertha Berlin manager has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with Wednesday enduring a disappointing start to the season sitting in 17th place with just 19 points, and will be hoping his side can produce an improved performance and pick up a much needed result.
However, on current form any sort of a positive result looks likely to be an uphill challenge for Luhukay’s side. Wednesday have conceded the joint most goals in the division, with 30 so far, only Preston North End have conceded as often, Their defensive frailties have been evident in recent games, with The Owls conceding 12 goals in their previous four matches including a 4-0 defeat at home to Norwich City on Saturday.
A victory for either side could be instrumental for the rest of their respective campaigns, if Sheffield United manage to collect all three points then confidence will be high and it could help them sustain their promotion challenge. Meanwhile if Sheffield Wednesday can record a win it would relieve some pressure on Jos Luhukay and could provide a platform for the Owls to start climbing the table.