Sheffield United take on Birmingham City at Bramall Lane tonight, with the visitors still without a league win during this campaign. However, there’s no such problem for the Yorkshire side, who know they can potentially move up to third with a victory tonight, whilst a win will certainly leave them just three points behind leaders Leeds.
Chris Wilder’s Blades got off to an awful start this season, losing their opening two games, however a four-game winning run put the side into the play-off picture, which is where they will hope to end up. Despite defeat last time out against Bristol City, the side seem to have found their form, with the team playing the fast, dynamic football that the manager demands.
However, things aren’t looking good for Birmingham, with Blues enduring a torrid summer following their financial issues. But, even though Garry Monk’s men are yet to win this season, their performances have merited much more points. The West Midlands side have dominated many games, often at St. Andrew’s but poor finishing has cost them dearly.
Sheffield United vs Birmingham City Prediction: Sheffield United 2-1 Birmingham City
Given Sheffield United’s recent form, with four wins in five and consecutive home victories, we feel they will have just about enough to overcome Monk’s men. The Blades are playing with confidence and importantly they look to have a good balance to the team. The potential absence of John Fleck would be a major concern but the squad has more than enough depth to cope without the Scottish midfielder.
With Blues’ away struggles and wastefulness in front of goal, it’s hard to see them scoring enough to get anything out of this game. However, they aren’t as bad as the league table suggests and this will be a tough game for the hosts, although we think they’ll edge it.
Our recommended tip: Sheffield United win
Given that, we would recommend backing the hosts to win as the main bet for this game. They will be confident of pushing for a top six place and if they are to do so, their form at Bramall Lane will be crucial. With all due respect to Birmingham, this is a game that the Blades will expect to win so they will be all-out attack from the first whistle and will look to take the game to the visitors.
As mentioned, it should be a close game but ultimately the Blades should have too much quality in midfield and up top to sneak a victory.
This will be the 111th meeting between the sides and it’s fair to say the previous encounters have been close, with Sheffield United winning 42 games compared to Birmingham’s 46. Given that, Blues will hold no fear going to Bramall Lane and they actually have a good record at the Blades ground, winning on four of their previous eight visits.
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Players to watch: Oliver Norwood & Lukas Jutkiewicz
It’s no surprise to many Championship fans that the Blades form has picked up since they signed Norwood on loan from Brighton. The Northern Ireland international has proven himself at this level over the years and is a quality midfield player. He can keep the ball well, gets stuck in and will look to dominate the game for the home side. With Fleck potentially out, his role will be even more important.
Birmingham’s biggest problem this season has been scoring goals and Jutkiewicz has been wasteful in front of goal. The big striker has one so far but it really should be more. In fairness, he offers a lot more to the side with his hold up play and strength but he needs to be more clinical. The way Blues are playing, chances will come, but they need to be finished tonight if they’re to win.