Sheffield United vs Watford Preview: Can Hornets upset high flying Blades?
Photo by Getty Images/Justin Setterfield

Sheffield United host Watford on Boxing Day hoping to stretch their winning run to four games and keep the European dream alive. 

The Hornets come into the game having only won twice this season whilst the Blades have surpassed expectations and are currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League, the highest a newly promoted side has been in the table at Christmas for 19 years.

Nigel Pearson has taken charge of two games since taking over at Watford, narrowly losing at Liverpool and then beating Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday.

Watford hoping to kickstart their season

Watford currently sit bottom of the Premier League with 12 points, six points from safety and have only won two games all season.

Pearson, who is now their fourth manager this campaign, spent seven years of his playing career at Sheffield Wednesday and will be looking to get one up on their cross-city rivals on Boxing Day. 

The 56-year old masterminded Leicester City's great escape in 2015 so has experience in relegations battles and will be hoping that the win against Manchester United will kickstart another success story.

Captain Troy Deeney scored his first goal of the season with a penalty against Manchester United but is wary of the threat Chris Wilder's side pose. 

He told Sky Sports following the win against Manchester United: "Sheffield United are flying, they have been a really difficult team to play against.

"We take nothing for granted, we've won one game, it doesn't mean we are going to win six in a row."

Blades looking to carry on winning streak

Sheffield United have won their last three games in a row and are sat in fifth place at Christmas in their first year back in the Premier League.

Last time out the Blades defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at the Amex Stadium thanks to a first half strike from Oli McBurnie.

Keeping clean sheets in their last two games takes their total for the season to seven meaning they have the joint best defensive record in the league. In addition to this, since the start of last season no team in the top four tiers has kept more clean sheets than the Blades.

However Wilder is taking nothing for granted and knows Watford will be up for the fight on Boxing Day. He told the club's media: 

“They’ve got a lot of good players. We’re looking at a really difficult task.

"I thought they were quite unfortunate at Liverpool and got their just rewards for a positive performance against Man United.”

Previous meeting

Watford and Sheffield United played out a dull 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road in October, in a game of very few chances. Both teams were lacklustre in the encounter with each side cancelling out the other.

The Hornets were under the guidance of Quique Sanchez Flores at the time and were denied by Dean Henderson when they managed to break down the United defence.

Sheffield United were not at their usual fluid best and failed to work Ben Foster significantly throughout the whole 90 minutes.

Predicted Line Ups

John Fleck is suspected to return to the Sheffield United side after serving his suspension whilst Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure has accumulated too many yellow cards so will miss out.

Sheffield United (5-3-2): Henderson - Baldock, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens - Lundstram, Norwood (C), Fleck - McGoldrick, McBurnie.

Watford (4-2-3-1): Foster - Marriappa, Kabasele, Cathcart, Femenia - Capoue, Hughes - Sarr, Chalobah, Deulofeu - Deeney (C)