CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Sunday's anticipated Steel City derby from Hillsborough.
Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United | Sunday 24th September 2017, 13:15 | Sky Sports
The 141st Steel City derby takes top billing on Sunday lunchtime. Hosting duties for the first clash of the season go to Wednesday as United head north to Hillsborough.
The key question I find myself asking is, does form and logic go out the window for these games? If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m more leaning towards matters on the pitch remaining largely the same.
In the stands may be a different story, but the players are professionals at the end of the day and should be in the zone, like every other game.
I’m not really keen on head-to-head records normally but I thought I’d go back and have a look anyway. There are exceptions to that, for example manager v manager records can be insightful but you tend to need a high level of knowledge on a particular team to know those things.
The last meeting was way back in February 2012 too, so even less relevance can be attached but if there’s one type of fixture head-to-head may be relevant on, it’s an inter-city derby.
I looked back at the last 10 meetings and to be honest nothing really stands out. The biggest talking points are the lack of cards and the home team always scoring. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
If anything, the lack of cards backs up my previous thought of ‘just another game’ for the players. Say that loosely, seeing as fans won’t see it that way.
Those 10 games have seen 33 yellow cards, so an average of 3.30 per-game and there’s been two red cards, both in the same game. I don’t think there’s much in the goal coring records in those games but for the record Both Teams To Score has won in six of those 10 and five featured Over 2.5 Goals. Again nothing groundbreaking.
Onto the present and both Sheffield clubs have had strong starts to the season. Wednesday lost on the opening day at Preston but have since gone seven unbeaten (W3-D4-L0), drawing 1-1 four times.
I’m still not overly enamoured by Carlos Carvalhal and his team but they’ve got that knack of being in games and picking up results, which is no mean feat.
The downside for them is the lack of clean sheets – seven of eight opponents have scored exactly one goal against them – Fulham ruined that perfect record by not scoring.
At the other end, the back of the nets rippled in every game since their opening outing but I can’t help but think they should have more about them.
Sheffield United have impressed on their return to the Championship, clocking up five wins and three losses, putting them in an early play-off place. It’ll be a big surprise if they are up there come March/April time but on the evidence so far a comfortable mid-table finish should be obtainable.
The Blades are one of only a handful of teams to set up in exactly the same way in every game so expect a 3-5-2 formation. Flexibility is generally a necessity these days but in certain cases finding one system and sticking to it works and that seems the case here.
Efficiency appears to be a big factor in Chris Wilder’s teams success. They rank very low in shots taken – when they do, nearly half have been from outside the box, yet they rank very high in shots on-target percentage.
At the other end, they’ve faced lots shots but only 21.57% have hit the target, which is far lower that the 32.87% average. After eight games, I suspect that isn’t a fluke and it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out over the course of the season.
The betting angle
Both teams have injury problems but the Blades have the worse of it. Strikers Billy Sharp, Clayton Donaldson and Leon Clarke all missed out last weekend and are down as doubtful for the derby.
I’d take a guess that they’ll be in the squad come Sunday but doing this 48 hours before the game brings a few doubts. If Sharp and Donaldson (especially) were fit and ready to go I’d be backing BTTS but it’s too much of a risk.
Either way, I expect the same result and when it comes down to it the formula is pretty simple. Sheffield Wednesday are the better team, at home and I expect them to get the win.
At 23/20 (Sportingbet) to have the bragging rights until January at least, they look a good price to me.
Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United – Sheffield Wednesday to win (23/20 Sportingbet)