Sheffield United v Derby Wednesday December 26, 15:00 Live on Sky Sports
Sheffield United frustrated in Suffolk
Billy Sharp's header earned Sheffield United a richly-deserved point at Portman Road on Saturday as the Blades were held to a 1-1 draw at Ipswich. Having fallen behind in the first-half, Chris Wilder's men fought back to dominate proceedings in Suffolk, but were unable to find a winner as they cemented their top-six berth.
John Egan came closest from a corner late on as United were unable to improve upon their recent run of only three Championship victories from their previous 10 outings. That downturn followed a four-match winning streak for the Blades that had seen Wilder's outfit hit the top of the table in early October.
Leon Clarke returned to the bench at the weekend following a nerve issue and is pushing for a recall. Wilder has no new injury with Conor Washington and midfielder Paul Coutts also hoping for a return to the starting XI here.
Derby denied by Robins
Derby and Bristol City both had their goalkeepers to thank for securing a stalemate on Saturday with a string of second-half saves made in an entertaining 1-1 draw at Pride Park. A defensive error from Richard Keogh saw the Rams fall behind but Martyn Waghornlevelled before the interval for County.
Frank Lampard's men arguably had the better of the first-half but the second 45 minutes was a fairly even affair as both sides pushed for a winner after the break. Keogh, Jayden Bogle and Mason Mount all came close to securing maximum points for the hosts who extended their unbeaten streak to four.
The Rams were without injured Wales winger Tom Lawrence and suspended midfielderBradley Johnson on Saturday, whilst David Nugent played 65 minutes despite breaking his hand in training on Thursday. Johnson serves the final match of his five-game ban here, and Jack Marriott is likely to replace Nugent.
Well-matched sides difficult to separate
Sheffield United2.10 picked up a solitary point from their last two meetings with Derby in 2018 but the Blades will be hopeful of extending their perfect Boxing Day record under Wilder this year. The home side arrive having lost their last two Bramall Lane outings, but haven't lost three on the spin here since 2013.
The Blades have W3-D2-L6 when taking on top-half teams this term and have W7-D4-L7 when welcoming the same standard of opposition here since the start of last season. Nevertheless, United boast a top-six ranking in all the major performance data metricsand deserve respect in the pre-match markets.
Derby3.60 are unbeaten on Boxing Day since 2012 (W2-D2-L0) and have only been beaten in three of 18 encounters against teams in 19th and above under Lampard. However, the Rams are rating as a mid-table second-tier club with only seven sides firing in fewer attempts from inside the penalty area this season.
Oppose goals at Bramall Lane
Both Teams To Score is understandably short having provided profit in 15/22 (68%) combined home/away contests in 2018/19, but I'm happy to support Under 2.5 Goals at odds-against quotes of 2.04 on Boxing Day.
These two teams have each seen 5/11 (45%) of their respective home or away games feature fewer than three goals, whilst overall just 21/46 (46%) of their collective clashes have produced Under 2.5 Goals.
Moreover, Derby's matches are averaging only 2.19 Expected Goals per-game with 10/31 (32%) of their goals scored arriving via shots outside the penalty box.
Mark O’Haire says: back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.04 in Sheffield United v Derby