The Owls will be hoping to make up for a lack-lustre performance in the previous encounter between the sides whereby the Blades ran out worthy 4-2 winners at Hillsborough.
New Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay will take charge of the Owls for the first time on Friday. The Wednesday faithful will be hoping for a spirited performance as well as 3 points as Luhukay era commences.
This week I had the opportunity to speak to one of my friends and colleagues from the Championship Round Table Podcast @ChampionshipPod to discuss the upcoming fixture.
Louis Hobbs is a Sheffield United fan and writer for Football League World amongst other projects. Below are my questions and his thoughts ahead of the game.
Sheffield Wednesday recently appointed Jos Luhukay and he will take charge of his first game on Friday. Are you fearful that this appointment may give the Owls additional belief ahead of this fixture? "The appointment of Luhukay really couldn't have come at a better time for Wednesday. He's got chance to make himself an instant hero. Inheriting a brand new squad, he can go into the game with no fear and experiment with his side which definitely gives Wednesday the upper hand. However, there's no way to predict how he'll set up tactically ahead of the game."
What are Sheffield United’s strengths and weaknesses this season? "Chris Wilder has really transformed the blades into a fantastic football playing side. Defensively we've made a lot of mistakes this year which has ultimately lead to our drop in form, but on the front foot were on of the best sides in the division. We have the ability to continuously press and this allows our defenders to always join the attack. We have many players in the current side has an eye for goal which we haven't seen at Bramall Lane in over 10 years."
If you were Jos Luhukay, what would your strategy be and how would you approach the game? "Luhukay needs to to into the game with an open mind and maybe consider doing something he has never done before. Most importantly he needs to understand the magnitude of the game, to us fans this isn't just any ordinary league game, this defines the season. Strategically, he needs to get his side to continuously press, Sheffield Wednesday can't sit back to try and counter attack because they will get punished."
Are there any Sheffield Wednesday players that concern you the most ahead of this fixture? "It's hard to single out one Wednesday player before the game because of how bad their injuries have been this season. Two players who will have an impact on the game are Ross Wallace and Adam Reach. If they can dominate the ball out wide and find the space to whip balls into the box our defenders have been caught out of position a lot this season. With strikers such as Rhodes and Hooper (if fit) lurking in the box, those dangerous balls in will definitely be a major concern that Wilder needs to try and stop."
Which particular players should Sheffield Wednesday should be fearful of on Friday? "The obvious one is Leon Clarke, Wednesday won't want to see on the pitch come Friday. He's been on fire all season causing all defences mayhem. He scored 2 goals in the reverse fixture and he'll definitely want to add to his tally of goals against a former club. The player which will dictate the game and may be the decider whether we win the game is Mark Duffy. Duffy has been a little magician for the Blades in the middle of the park and is the main feeder to our strikers. If Wednesday can find a way to cancel him out of the game, United will struggle to create chances. Another one to watch is Ched Evans. He feels like a new signing, he's slowly overcoming an injury which he sustained earlier in the season. Evans may be fit for Friday's game, it is written in the stars for him to score against Wednesday."
How do you see this match going and what is your score prediction? "I think there will definitely be a handful of goals in the game, both defences have been quite leaky this year. I think Leon Clarke and Jordan Rhodes both might have abfield day. If United play like they have for the majority of the season, I think Wilder's side may have a bit too much going forward for Wednesday to handle. I'm predicting another 4-2 win for the Blades like earlier in the season."
Finally, where do you expect Wednesday & United to finish in the league standings this term? "United are in a really good place to finish in the playoffs, I would love for them to push for the second automatic spot. However, realistically, if the Blades can muster a good run of form and keep it going until the end of the season, there is no reason why they can't finish in the top six. Wednesday on the other hand, considering their current position, I think the new boss would have to perform a miracle to get Wednesday into a playoff position. Yet, in this league, anything is possible. I do think, however, Wednesday will consolidate themselves under Luhukay and finish somewhere midtable between the 8th and 14th."
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Louis for answering my questions. You can follow Louis on Twitter @_LH9_