Leeds v Sheffield United
Friday 27th October, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Leeds back to winning ways
Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen opted to stick by his 4-2-3-1 formation last weekend despite losing four of five previous Championship outings, including three immediately prior to their trip to Ashton Gate to face high-flying Bristol City.
However, the Whites boss pushed Kalvin Phillips into the number 10 role and recalled Ronaldo Vieira to partner Eunan O'Kane in a more balanced midfield pairing, offering both brawn and flair. The result was obvious with Vieira dominating the match in a wonderful 3-0 triumph for Leeds.
Samuel Saiz bagged an early brace as the Whites cemented their position in the top-six in emphatic style and should again feature from the flanks. Gaetano Berardi's red card means the defender is absent whilst Stuart Dallas remains a doubt following a family bereavement.
Sheffield United flying high
Goals from Paul Coutts and Billy Sharp helped Sheffield United to an eighth triumph in 10 as the Blades overcame Reading 2-1 at Bramall Lane. Chris Wilder's troops reduced the Royals to a sole on-target effort and are now occupying third in the Championship, sitting only two points off top spot.
Wilder claimed his clan will have no shortage of motivation for the all-Yorkshire clash, telling the local press in Sheffield, "They don't need any geeing up for any game. I'd be embarrassed if I had to gee my team up, that would be a right insult."
The Blades boss promised in pre-season his newly-promoted outfit would 'go for it' in every game they played and the visiting boss has been true to his word thus far. United have proven tough, organised operators with a supreme work ethic and travel up the M1 with defender Kieron Freeman the only major absentee.
Leeds fair favourites at Elland Road
Leeds have suffered a solitary home loss to Sheffield United in over 30 years but Friday night's clash is the first between the two club's since March 2011. Nevertheless, the hosts have been chalked up as 2.34 favourites to extend a wonderful Elland Road record.
The Whites have pocketed 17/26 (65%) victories here since the start of last season and also boast a tremendous W7-D3-L2 return when welcoming top-half teams. Meanwhile, Leeds' 56% xG ratio from open play puts Christiansen's charges in amongst the top-six performers in the division.
Sheffield United 3.35 arrive one place above their bitter rivals but three of their four defeats since promotion have arrived on the road (W3-D0-L3) although the Blades deserved at least a point from their most recent away day at Nottingham Forest.
In what's likely to be a tight and edgy encounter, the draw 3.45 is always the value option at the biggest price available in the Match Odds market.
Tight tussle anticipated
Four of Leeds' last five Championship matches featured Over 2.5 Goals winners but at Elland Road, the Whites have produced only two goal-heavy games in six. With half of those showdowns being settled by no more than one goal, opposing a high-scoring contest appeals.
Indeed, Leeds have leaked only 11 goals in 14 home fixtures with top-half clubs with 11 (79%} of the same sample proving profitable for Under 2.5 Goals punters. With only four second-tier sides featuring a lower average xG return from open play (1.95) this term, the data also points towards opposing goals.
Sheffield United's success has been built upon a solid defence - only Cardiff have conceded fewer goals - with the Blades paying-out in the Under 2.5 Goals market in eight of their 13 outings thus far. And considering the guests' games have produced a lower average xG return from open play (1.93), backing a tight tussle is our best angle of attack on Friday night at fair 1.81 odds.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.81 in Leeds v Sheffield United