Sheffield United, or as they are more colloquially known ‘The Blades’, currently sit in 7th position in the table and just two points off a play-off place. After losing to Burnley in the play-off final last season Sheffield United were expected to be ‘in or around’ the automatic spots this season however it looks as if the play-offs are the best they can hope for this time round. Kevin Blackwell strengthened in the summer bringing in 10 new faces to Brammal Lane including highly rated, young talent, Ched Evans from Manchester City. The season started well for ‘Blades’ as they climbed as high as fourth after the first 8 games but it seemed a false-dawn as they slumped to 8 consecutive games without a win and pressure heaped down on manager Kevin Blackwell with many saying he would have been sacked if ‘The Blades’ had lost the reverse fixture earlier on in the season. Things have improved for Sheffield United since then but inconsistency has harmed there promotion push, after facing heavy defeats from seemingly lesser opponents like Scunthorpe and Watford.
Sheffield United have won the top division of English football, way back in the 1897-1898 season but in modern times have had only brief visits to the Premier League, the most recent being in 2006-2007 season. In this season they were relegated on the last day of the season due to a David Unsworth penalty, a former ‘Blade’, but it still seemed like hard justice for the Brammal Lane faithful as Carlos Tevez, a player that was illegally signed, scored against Manchester United to secure the three points needed for the London club to stay up, Sheffield United pursued a case to be re-instated to the Premier League but it was rejected, instead West Ham were forced to pay a compensation package of £20 million to ‘The Blades’. Sheffield United have spent most of their time in the Championship and seem to normally be one of the teams challenging for promotion, but rarely seem to achieve it. They host one of the fiercest rivalries in English football against neighbours, Sheffield Wednesday.
The Form Book:
Sheffield United come into this game having won just one of their last six games picking up just 4 points out of 18. ‘The Blades’ have lost their last 5 away games, in league and cup, scoring only two goals in the process. Their away form has not only been poor recently, it has been a problem all season, they would sit 13th in the table if only away form was taken into consideration.
Peterborough United have won both home games under Jim Gannon’s management so far, albeit against seemingly lesser opponents in Q.P.R and Ipswich. Posh’s home form hasn’t been too bad in fact this season, if it was only results at home that were taken into account Posh would be outside of the relegation zone after picking up 20 points at London Road.
Last Time Out:
The teams met at Brammal Lane earlier in the season and fought out a close encounter that Sheffield United battled through to win 1-0. This was Mark Cooper’s first game in charge of Peterborough United. Henri Camara gave the hosts the lead after hammering home a re-bound off a Jamie Ward shot. Mark Bunn saved a second-half George Boyd penalty as the visitors looked the better side but the home side held onto a valuable three points.
Sheffield United: Henri Camara –The former Wigan Athletic striker signed for Sheffield United during the summer transfer window on a contract until the end of the season. He started his career in English football at Wolverhampton Wanderers after signing from French club Sedan. After struggling to break into the ‘Wolves’ first team he moved to Wigan. He played 69 times, scoring 20 goals for the Lancashire outfit. He has been capped 89 times for his native country Senegal. A pacey striker with an eye for goal the Posh defence will have to be at its best to stop Camara scoring past them for the second time this season.
Peterborough United: Liam Dickinson – Reunited with Gannon this week after signing from the Brighton the former Stockport man made an impressive debut that led to him getting a standing ovation from the London Road crowd when he was substituted, Dickinson will be looking to build on his impressive start to life at Peterborough against Sheffield United. A real handful for defenders due to his size, ‘Dicko’ can give defences plenty to worry about being able to hold up the ball and bring others into play or use his pace to create a chance for himself.
Sheffield United: Darius Henderson is suspended following his red-card on Tuesday night. Derek Geary continues to struggle with injuries and is also out meaning Nick Montgomery is likely to fill in at right-back with Stephen Quinn replacing him in centre midfield. ‘Blades’ captain Chris Morgan is injured for an expected three weeks meaning he will miss the tie, as will centre midfielder James Harper. Gary Naismith is a long term injury worry.
Peterborough United: Gabriel Zakuani is back training with the first team but is still a doubt for the clash. Izale McLeod is likely to miss 8 weeks of football, and Kerrea Gilbert is also struggling for fitness.
Match Odds (William Hill):
Peterborough – 7/4 Draw – 11/5 Sheffield United – 5/4
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