High flying Bolton Wanderers are taking on in-form Sheffield United in a clash of counties this Saturday in the Sky Bet Championship.
Phil Parkinson will be taking his side in to the game at the University of Bolton stadium sitting proudly in 3rd place in the league, whilst Chris Wilder and his Blades enter the game in 12th. Wins over West Brom, Reading and Birmingham City coupled with a 2-2 draw at home to Bristol City (in a game they also lead 2-0) the Bolton faithful are in a dream land.
Sheffield United on the other hand, on the back of a horrific start to the season which saw them rock bottom after two games, have regrouped and following a 2-1 win away to QPR and a late winner at home against Norwich city. Chris Wilder has dragged his team up from the bottom of the pecking order once again to playing good football and picking up results.
Phil Parkinson could welcome back forward Sammy Ameobi and winger Will Buckley as they fight the clock to over come hip and thigh injuries, which they both picked up against Birmingham on Wednesday. Summer signing Erhun Otzumer will be hoping that he did enough midweek at St. Andrews, in what was his Championship debut, to warrant a start this weekend.
Reports suggest Mark Duffy is available for Chris Wilder following on from an illness that hit the squad last week prior to the encounter with Norwich.
Noticeable absentee’s for the Blades are defenders George Baldock and Kean Bryan who remain out for the foreseeable future. However, one positive to take is that Paul Coutts is due to play a behind closed doors friendly next week in order to boost his match fitness. Chris Wilder revealed that he is hoping to have the Scottish playmaker in the mix as early as the end of next month. Rumours began to circulate that Coutts could be on the bench for the game at the University of Bolton stadium, however, this is likely to be merely sentimental more than any serious chance of game time.
- Last season’s 1 – 0 defeat to Sheffield United was Bolton’s first home league defeat to the Blades since April 1977
- The Lancashire club have also not lost back-to-back home games against Sheffield United since 1898 – a record lasting over 120 years.
- Bolton’s three wins in four games this season is a vast improvement in comparison to last season which saw them take until December to win the same number of games (20 games)
- Sheffield United veteran and hero Billy Sharp has not ended on the losing side in any of the last 36 matches he has scored in for the Blades in all competitions – winning 29 and drawing only seven.
- Will Buckley has scored in two of his last three league games for Bolton – the winger may miss out on Saturday which will be a real blow for Phil Parkinson given his upturn in former (his previous two league goals came over a period of 44 matches).
- Sheffield Uniteds main issue last season was poor away form – the Blades have not won back to back away league matches since a run of three in September 2017.
- These sides are a gamblers dream – Bolton and Sheffield United have not shared a goalless league draw for nearly 50 years with the last coming in November 1969 (27 matches ago)
Bolton 2 – 1 Sheffield United
I can’t believe I am betting against my own team – but I cannot go a whole season backing Sheffield United to become the new invincibles!
I just think Bolton are flying high at the moment, good players coming back from injury and Sheffield United had to come from behind to beat what has shown to be quite a poor QPR side, and then relied on a 93rd minute Billy Sharp goal to beat Norwich. History says Bolton should take the points, and I don’t think I can argue against this. 2 – 1.
Picture Credit: Sheffield United