Sheffield United: The run The Blades will be hoping to break at Middlesbrough tonight
Tonight’s visit to Middlesbrough will be a test of Sheffield United’s new-found confidence for a host of different reasons, not least because their former manager Neil Warnock will be in the opposition dug-out.
But Slavisa Jokanovic, whose side are now climbing up the table following a difficult start to the season, also knows his employers have not won an away match on Teesside since October 1997.
James Shield, The Star’s United writer, identifies some of the key figures set to be involved in the fixture and statistical trends which could influence its outcome.
The Possible Teams: Middlesbrough - Lumley, Peltier, Bola, McNair, Tavernier, Jones, Olusanya, Howson, Payero, Sporar, Watmore. United - Olsen, Baldock, Stevens, Egan, Davies, Fleck, Norwood, Osborn, Ndiaye, Gibbs-White, Sharp.
The Referee: James Linington, from Newport, will be taking charge of his seventh match of the season. Averaging 4.5 yellow cards per game since August, all of his previous six outings have also been in the Championship. Linington has cautioned six players during a game twice this term - during West Bromwich Albion’s visit to Peterborough and AFC Bournemouth's home game against Barnsley.
The History Lesson: United have not won any of their last six away matches at Middlesbrough, losing five and drawing one of those. However, they boast a better record than their latest opponents in the overall head to head between the two clubs, winning 43 and drawing 22 of their previous 104 meetings. The most recent stalemate between these two clubs in the North-East came on the opening weekend of the 2009/10 Championship season. Kevin Blackwell, now Warnock’s assistant at Middlesbrough, was in charge of United for that fixture. Warnock had led them into the Premier League three years earlier.
The Form Guide: United are unbeaten in their last five Championship matches, winning three, drawing two and scoring 12 goals in the process. They have conceded five times during that run. Middlesbrough have won only one of their last seven games in the competition, and enter this fixture hoping to avoid a third consecutive defeat after losses to Blackpool and Reading.
The Details: Middlesbrough versus United, the Riverside Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm tonight.