Sheffield United vs Reading Preview: Can The Blades continue their stunning start to the season with another win?

Sheffield United will be looking to continue their fine start to the season in The Championship as they take on Reading at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.

Sheffield United vs Reading Preview: Can The Blades continue their stunning start to the season with another win?
Sheffield United vs Reading Preview: Can The Blades continue their stunning start to the season with another win? (picture: Getty Images / Ian Walton)

Sheffield United will be looking to continue their fine start to the season in The Championship as they take on Reading at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.

The Blades returned from the international break by winning 1-0 against Ipswich Town at home which was the ideal response to their 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest two weeks prior. They will be looking to make the most of home advantage again this weekend. 

As for Reading, they sealed a very impressive 1-0 win against Leeds United at Elland Road last time out. This could be a turning point for the Royals after what has been a relatively slow and disappointing start to the campaign. 

How they've fared so far

Sheffield United enjoyed a very successful season last time out under the management of Chris Wilder as they ended their six-year absence from the second tier by winning the League One title in style. However, no-one was expecting them to carry this momentum into this season quite as much as they have. They are currently sat third in The Championship which is a remarkable start to the season. 

Despite being so early on in the season still, it is difficult to see United finishing outside of the play-off places. They have been one of the most consistent sides in the division so far and Wilder has proved himself to be a quality manager. If they keep up this sort of form, it will not be long until Wilder begins to be linked with jobs in the Premier League. However, he will be hoping that he can reach the top flight with the Blades in the near future. 

The 'feel-good' factor around Bramall Lane at the moment was boosted in midweek by the news that youngster David Brooks had signed a new four-year contract. The 20-year-old winger has played a key role in United's stunning start to the campaign and had begun to be linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham United and Newcastle United. The fact he has decided to commit his long-term future to United, highlights just how far the club has come in recent years. 

As for Reading, it has been a rather underwhelming start to the season after losing out in the Play-Off Final to Huddersfield Town in May. It appears that this defeat has had an impact on the Royals' start to the season under the management of Jaap Stam but they do look like they might be starting to turn their poor run of form around. 

Their 1-0 win against Leeds last time out was only their third win of the campaign. However, it was the performance that will give Reading supporters belief that they are on the brink of going on a good run. They saw their side dominate for large periods of the game and more than deserve the three points which eventually came courtesy of Modou Barrow's late strike. It will now be interesting to see whether they can build on this result with another positive performance this weekend and start to build some momentum. 

Last time they met 

Sheffield United last played Reading in The FA Cup in a 4-0 defeat at  The Madejski Stadium in January 2013. The Royals, who were a top flight side at the time, secured a comfortable win courtesy of a double from Noel Hunt and goals from Mikele Leigertwood and Garath McCleary. Blades manager at the time, Danny Wilson, was left very disappointed with performance and the way in which the away side conceded the goals. 

Team news

Wilder received the disappointing news this week that full-back Kieran Freeman has been ruled out for at least the next eight weeks with a dislocated kneecap but hailed his commitment to the cause. It will be interesting to see whether Brooks returns to the starting line-up after signing a new contract this week and being a key performer for United so far this season. 

As for Reading, they could be boosted by the return of striker Yann Kermorgant who is yet to play this season due to undergoing hip and groin surgery this summer. Paul McShane and John Swift are also once again available for selection after recovering from their retrospective injuries. The return of these three players will certainly give Stam hope of securing a second consecutive away win.