Local rivals Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday lock horns at Bramall Lane in the Friday night Championship clash that is sure to get tempers flaring.
The visitors will be led for the first time by Dutchman Jos Luhukay, who knows that a victory in this game will hugely boost morale and help galvanize the club.
Chris Wilder, a Blade from birth, knows the importance of this fixture, which will decide bragging rights and impact his side’s promotion chances.
United can temporarily move back into the play-off places with three points and they are 17/20 (1.85) to complete a double over their foes after recording a 4-2 win at Hillsborough back in September.
Considering the hosts have won just one of their last eight league games though, losing four times in that sequence, the away win is a large price at 16/5 (4.2).
Six of the last 10 meetings between these sides in S2 have ended all square and a repeat is 5/2 (3.5).
Wilder has deployed a wing-back system in every game and is unlikely to change tact here, whilst any three of Clayton Donaldson, Billy Sharp and new Manchester United loanee James Wilson could partner striker Leon Clarke - who is a generous 5/4 (2.25) to add to his 15-goal tally.
4-2-3-1 disciple Luhukay inherits a Wednesday squad plagued by injuries – midfielders Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee and Barry Bannan are guaranteed to miss Friday’s clash, and up to six other men will also be out.
The shortage of options available to the former Stuttgart boss might give him further encouragement to adopt a pragmatic approach to avoid defeat, whilst the hosts have not exactly been involved in thrillers themselves, scoring two and conceding two in their last three.
Joao and Thomas to strike?
Luhukay likes powerful strikers who are good in the air and with Steven Fletcher among the possible absentees, target man Lucas Joao could get his chance and is 7/2 (4.5) to score anytime, whilst an outside goalscorer bet for the hosts could be Nathan Thomas; the ex-Hartlepool man hit an excellent strike at Ipswich in the FA Cup and is 25/1 (26.0) to bag in another 1-0 win.
Tips and predictions
Sheffield United, who haven’t beaten a team outside the bottom four since October, probably aren’t quite in strong enough form to justify their tag as odds-on favourites, and whilst Wednesday might be galvanized by the change of leader, their damaging injury issues means it is also hard to side with them.
Instead, we’re keeping both teams at arm’s length and plumping for the Both Teams To Score – No at 4/5 (1.8). That bet would have come off in seven of the last eight games involving either side and the defensive approach we expect from the Owls only adds to the likelihood of a repeat.
Odds correct at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.