Wednesday will be looking to finally put to bed their poor form at Bramall Lane by coming out on top and completing a Steel City Double against United on Saturday.
Brian Laws’ men have that away derby record to put right but United will be just desperate to bag victory, as in any derby clash, after going three clashes without victory.
Steve Watson’s goal gave the Owls the bragging rights from the clash at Hillsborough earlier in the season, but who will be the hero at Bramall Lane?
Brian Laws told www.swfc.co.uk:
‘We have the edge over Sheffield United and it’s down to them to stop us. One thing is for sure, they’ll be more nervy about us than anything else.’
He continued: ‘It’s one of the biggest games of the season, in fact it is the biggest game, particularly in Sheffield and it’s a game that gets built up a lot. Everybody knows about it and we’re hoping for a fantastic game and hopefully a fantastic result.
‘We tried it last year, there was a 94-year gap since we last did the double over Sheffield United – so it’s now 95 years. I hope it’s concluded this year and I want to win this for the supporters particularly and to have the bragging rights.’
Kevin Blackwell told the Sheffield Star:
‘Opposition teams have been saying that we’re tough to beat and that you’ve got to match us physically to stand a chance. Too right. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
‘Every player needs a confidence and single-mindedness so that you don’t get bossed and you come out on top.
‘Sometimes at home I think our lads have been trying too hard to placate people but that’s not going to be a problem here.’
United Team News:
United will be without the services of Doncaster-born striker Darius Henderson, with the former Watford man serving a suspension after his sending off against Southampton in midweek.
But the Blades have the ideal replacement in former Arsenal player Arturo Lupoli, who arrrived at Bramall Lane on loan before the close of the transfer window.
The Italian striker is set to get his bow in the red and white stripes after watching the Blades pick up a 2-1 victory at Southampton on Tuesday night.
Fellow new signing Jamie Ward will also be pushing for a start since his January arrival from Chesterfield.
Ward turned down an offer from Barnsley to be at United and came on to score the winner at St Mary’s in midweek, giving the Blades boss plenty of food for thought for selection.
Centre-back Chris Morgan was expected to be missing from the clash after picking up an injury in the Blades’ clash with Preston, but the former Barnsley captain will undergo a late fitness test.
Former Owl Leigh Bromby will continue at the back should Morgan not be fit for selection.
Player to watch: Danny Webber
With no Henderson to lead the United line, Webber is set to be crucial to the Blades’ attacking line, and will be looking to cause problems in the Wednesday back line throughout with his pace and neat finishing.
Wednesday Team News:
Boss Brian Laws could be set to name the same starting line-up that drew 1-1 with Birmingham City last weekend.
Francis Jeffers remains out of contention with him serving a suspension for his sending off in the 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, but the Owls could be boosted with the return to fitness of Akpo Sodje.
The former Port Vale man, who has already scored in a Sheffield derby, will be far from 100 per cent but could be included to act as a ‘supeer sub’ and to step up his fitness in the most important of games.
Steve Watson, who scored the winner in the Owls’ 1-0 victory at Hillsborough earlier this season, could also return following injury, but he could also be forced to settle for a place on the bench again.
Player to watch: Jermaine Johnson
The Jamaican winger can cause all kinds of problems for the United defence on his day, and United boss Kevin Blackwell will no doubt have tagged him as ‘one to watch’ following his performance in the derby at Hillsborough. JJ will no doubt be wanting to repeat that performance, but without his controversial sending off last time out.
Match Facts & Stats
United wins: 44
ednesday wins: 39
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 1-0 United
Wednesday bossed a second derby game in succession as Steve Watson’s first half, long-range, effort was enough to give Wednesday the three points, and the bragging rights from the first Steel City Derby of the season at S6.
United: Kenny, Halford, Bromby, Kilgallon, Naysmith, Howard, Montgomery, Naughton, Quinn, Henderson, Webber (Ward 86). Subs Not Used: Cotterill, Hendrie, Jihai, Sharp.
Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Johnson (Small 83), Potter, O’Connor, Gray, Tudgay, Clarke. Subs Not Used: Hinds, Watson, McAllister, Boden.
v Doncaster Rovers (A) – 14/02/09
v Crystal Palace (H) – 24/02/09