Sheffield Untied v Leeds | Saturday 1st December 2018, 12:30 | Sky Sports
An intriguing contest will take place at Bramall Lane on Saturday lunchtime as Sheffield United welcome Leeds. Both sides enter this on the back of midweek victories, with the Blades coming from behind at Brentford on Tuesday and Leeds edging past Reading at Elland Road.
I think we’re now at the stage of the season where he can probably say that we have two promotion contenders facing off. Crazy things can happen heading into the New Year of course, but this pair have been two of the standout sides at this level so far.
Stakes are therefore high in this Yorkshire derby.
Both goalkeepers should be busy
On only five occasions this season have Sheffield United failed to score in a Championship match. One of those was in the recent Steel City derby draw with Sheffield Wednesday before the international break. They’ve netted 32 times so far, which is certainly among the best at this level.
Leeds can go a bit better however. Whilst they too have also scored 32 times in their 19 league matches to date, only once have they not scored in the Championship. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a tactical masterclass from Tony Pulis to ensure Middlesbrough left Elland Road with a 0-0 draw back in August.
Before you’re too quick to jump onto the goals route, it is worth remembering that these are also two of the stronger defences in this division as well. However, it is only 26% worth of clean sheets for Sheffield United so far, which doesn’t seem that many considering they have been around the play-off places at least for quite a number of weeks now.
Leeds fare much better on that front with their 42% of shutouts, which won’t come as a big shock given they often dominate the ball and reduce time of the ball for the opposition to cause effect.
Leeds however are starting to concede more, away from home that is. They’ve kept only two clean sheets on the road, one ironically is against high-flying Norwich when dismantling them 3-0 back in August. They shipped four at West Brom a few weeks back.
The visitors probably won’t do the same at Bramall Lane on Saturday, but the Blades are a side that play a very aggressive attacking game and love to be among the goals themselves. Marcelo Bielsa’s men have scored in every single away match.
Sometimes derby matches can turn tight and tactical, but we’ll back Both Teams To Score here at 5/7 (10BET). A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for either side but they’ll certainly play to win from the off.
Tough to separate these two
There are plenty of similarities between Sheff Utd and Leeds heading into this. Not to mention the league position and points amassed following 19 tough encounters each. Only two points is the difference. Leeds have three more points at home, whilst Sheff Utd have earned an extra point on the road.
Both have scored the same amount of goals, but Wilder’s side have conceded six more. Even on the form guide there is nothing to choose between them. Over the last 10, both have collected 18 points.
We’ve already touched upon how Leeds love to keep the ball and that is helping them not only offensive but defensively. So far, they keep an average of 59% of the ball game-by-game. Sheffield United are still above the 50% mark, but we probably couldn’t say both are identical in relation to how they do indeed play.
Bielsa is so unique is how he sets his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation. They work terrifically hard, progress through the thirds with ease and are unbelievably well organised and drilled. Wilder perhaps prefers more of a high tempo game, they will get bodies forward, including the wider defenders like Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell to good effect.
It is battles like that which will make this such an interesting watch. Another thing in the advantage of Leeds is that they are averaging the most shots on goal per-game than any other team in the division. As things stand, it reads 15.4 attempts. Sheffield United is down at 12.9, which might not seem like a great difference, but it only takes one shot to score a goal.
Perhaps a negative for Leeds is that considering those numbers are so high, their average shots on-target figure is only at 4.6. It is at 4.2 for Sheffield United, so there isn’t a great deal of difference in that regard. The Blades won’t need as many chances to score on that basis, whilst Leeds tend to try and blow, knock and kick the door down, but they normally breakthrough in the end.
Sheff Utd have only drawn four matches all season, but three of those did arrive at home. Leeds have lost two of their last three away, whilst their last six on the road reads W2-D2-L2. That is obviously a little inconsistent, and as the away side a draw may suit them more, whilst obviously still trying to win.
Wilder’s men have drawn two of their last three, and three of their previous six. If we’re backing both to score, we’ll give the 1-1 Correct Score a little bit of interest at 6/1 (BetStars).
Kemar to raise the Roofe
Someone who continues to catch the eye is former Oxford man Kemar Roofe. He has become instrumental to this Leeds side – this was further highlighted by the time he spent out of action not that long ago because of injury. Of the six games he was out, Leeds only won two.
The 25-year-old is probably the form player in the division at things stand. Over his last six appearances, he has returned four goals. He won the August Player of the Month Award after netting four in the opening month of the campaign. Bielsa won the respective Manager of the Month Award, too.
Tyler Roberts was the man given the task of essentially replacing Roofe when he was injured. The Welsh international proved less effective, netting three time, two of which came in the same game when beating Preston 3-0 in September. Roofe is certainly one of the first names on the teamsheet.
With Sheff Utd conceding two goals in each of their previous two games, they may have to hope that Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson produced another Man of the Match display to keep someone such as Roofe at bay.
Roofe is also well up the table of player to have shots on goal. He is averaging 3.3 shots on goal per-game. At the time of writing, Callum Robinson of Preston tops that respective chart on 3.4. It suggests Roofe is doing better than most in relation to trying to threaten the scoresheet.
His movement and the way Leeds play the game seem to marry up quite nicely. He is often in the right place at the right time. With that being the case, and the form he is presently in, we have to have a little play on Kemar Roofe to score at Anytime at 37/20 (888).