MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) tackles Sunday’s televised League One encounter between local rivals Chesterfield and Sheffield United.
Chesterfield v Sheffield | Sunday 14.15 | Sky Sports 1
Since Sheffield United suffered demotion to League One, four managers have tried (and failed) to bring the Blades back up with current Chesterfield boss Danny Wilson going closest.
Wilson will line-up in the opposition dugout on Sunday afternoon when his Spireites side take on United in what tends to be a fiercely contested local derby. Just 12 miles separates the two clubs and the Proact Stadium is sold out.
Blades bang in-form
Sheffield United pitch up on the back of an outstanding run of results; exclude the nonsense EFL Trophy and focus firmly on league action, Chris Wilder’s men have W8-D3-LO since 20th August. That spell includes W3-D3-L0 on their travels with the Blades climbing from rock-bottom to fourth.
The visitors boast a 58.77% shot ratio across that 11-match sample with many inside and outside of the club waxing lyrical over Wilder’s touch.
The title winner with Northampton last season brings a down-to-earth approach to proceedings and has dramatically improved atmosphere and communication behind the scenes.
This weekend Wilder can welcome back centre-forwards Leon Clarke and Matt Done to the fray. United were short in attacking areas recently but still managed to plunder 22 goals in six fixtures and head to Chesterfield boasting the league’s best away attack.
Avoid odds-on United
But should the Blades be trading at miniscule 7/10 quotes on Sunday? Considering one of my golden rules is to avoid odds-on shorts on their travels in the Football League, I’m certainly not keen to get involved despite Chesterfield’s recent woes.
The Spireites had lost seven games on the spin before beating Colchester in the FA Cup at the weekend and Wilson’s troops followed that result up with a victory at Crewe in the Micky Mouse Trophy. In overcoming Colchester, the Derbyshire outfit ended a 502-minute wait for a goal too.
Spirits have been massively raised by their consecutive cup triumphs and although the hosts sit second-from-bottom in League One, there’s enough quality in their injury-hit squad to trouble United at the Proact here.
Wilson adamant Chesterfield can compete
Wilson said recently, “It’s only a matter of time before the lads click” and was adamant his troops can compete against the division’s elite. Although right-back Liam Graham is the latest player unavailable, the return of former Blades striker Ched Evans should give the group a big lift.
Evans and Jay O’Shea notched in the weekend win and along with highly-rated winger Gboly Ariyibi, represent three potential avenues for goals against a Sheffield United side that’s kept only two shutouts in 16 away league fixtures.
Support goals on Sunday
However, under Wilson’s watch, Chesterfield have kept only three clean sheets in 20 Proact outings themselves so backing Both Teams To Score at 13/15 (188BET) looks a decent port of call here, especially so when considering the Blades have seen Over 2.5 Goals ticked off in 10 of their last 12 on the road.
The home side haven’t tended to fare well when entertaining the division’s best – seven of their last 10 at home to top-six teams have ended in defeat – five by at least a two-goal margin – but I’d rather not get involved in this game from the outset despite feeling the Spireites are undervalued.
The first goal is likely to be crucial to Chesterfield’s chances – the hosts have taken a solitary point in nine games when conceding the opening goal this season whilst United are unbeaten in the eight occasions they’ve broken the deadlock.
That may lead to a potentially profitable in-play punt but for now I’ll leave things with BTTS – it’s a bet that’s won in 12/20 (60%) of Chesterfield’s home contests under Wilson and 18/31 (58%) away days for Sheffield United since the beginning of 2015/16.
Chesterfield v Sheffield United – Both Teams To Score (13/15 188bet)