ALL eyes will be glued to Hillsborough on Sunday for the High Noon 127th Steel City Derby clash. The sides head into the game in contrasting form with Owls boss Gary Megson under increasing pressure as his Wednesday team have lost their last four games including three in the league.
This has seen the Owls slip five points behind United having played two games more and automatic promotion hopes are dwindling. They are still 9/4 to secure promotion at betvictor.com but it’s increasingly likely this will now have to be via the play-offs. For those Owls fans optimistic that the title is still a realistic target they can avail themselves of 33/1 at betvictor.com
The loss of Jermaine Johnson following his knee ligament injury at Chesterfield last weekend compounded another poor day at the office and Wednesday really have to improve quickly or a season that promised so much is going to end in disappointment.
Johnson may well be replaced by Reading loanee Michail Antonio and there is a possibility that he will be put straight into the starting team.
In contrast United are flying with 15 points from their last 18 and with many of the other promotion candidates faltering in League One they have seen their own promotion hopes increase significantly in recent weeks.
The Blades had to come from a goal down against Preston last weekend and weren’t perhaps at their best, but they will certainly not be lacking in confidence. The Blades are 4/11 for a quick return to the Championship and only 11/4 for the title now they have closed to within seven points of Charlton follow the Addicks (1/3) home draw with Rochdale. The Blades also have a game in hand. Wednesday will be hoping the old adage of current form counting for nothing in a derby is never truer in a game they cannot afford to lose.
They are marginal favourites 8/5 for victory with United 13/8 and the draw 85/40 at BetVictor and a repeat of the early season 2-2 draw is available at 12/1. Both teams to score is 4/6 and over 2.5 goals is 5/6.
Ched Evans bagged two against Preston to take his league tally to 15 and, but for a missed penalty, would have taken home the match ball. He is 5-1 favourite to open the scoring again and 7/4 to score any time.
It has been a terrific week for the striker; he is one of three players short-listed for the League One Player of the Year Award alongside Huddersfield’s Jordan Rhodes and Charlton’s Johnnie Johnson.
Gary Madine was dropped to the bench at Chesterfield and although he appeared in the second half his goal drought continued. He is 15/8 to score any time during the 90 minutes and 6/1 to grab the opener.
Elsewhere table toppers Charlton play host to form outfit Stevenage no doubt hoping Boro will have the distraction of an FA Cup replay at Tottenham on their minds. The Addicks know it remains their title to lose but with teams always raising their game against the leaders it will be a nervous last quarter of the season for those in South London.
Two big England v Wales encounters this weekend with Liverpool favourites to take care of Cardiff at Wembley on Sunday in the Carling Cup (125/1 they win 6-1 the same score as they beat Brighton last weekend) but the Six Nations Rugby is closer to call with Wales slight favourites.