Sheffield United vs Bristol City Preview: Third vs Fourth set to face off at Bramall Lane

Sheffield United will be looking to get back to winning ways in The Championship as they take on Bristol City at Bramall Lane on Friday evening.

Sheffield United vs Bristol City Preview: Third vs Fourth set to face off at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United vs Bristol City Preview: Third vs Fourth set to face off at Bramall Lane. (picture: Getty Images / Mark Cosgrove)

Sheffield United will be looking to get back to winning ways in The Championship as they take on Bristol City at Bramall Lane on Friday evening.

The Blades suffered defeat at the weekend as they were well beaten by Neil Harris' Millwall side 3-1 at The New Den. It was not the best performance from Chris Wilder's side and he will be looking for his side to respond on Friday night in this match. 

As for Bristol City, their remarkable rise up the Championship table continued as they beat pre-season promotion favourites Middlesbrough 2-1 at Ashton Gate. They will arrive at Bramall Lane with confidence that they can secure another three points.

How they've fared so far

It has been a superb start to the season for Sheffield United under the management of Wilder. No-one would have expected them to be sat fourth in the Championship approaching Christmas before the season kicked off. They have been able to carry momentum from last season's League One triumph into this campaign with ease.

However, their form has dipped of late, which could be something to do with the absence of influential midfielder Paul Coutts. The 29-year-old was ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his leg in the 3-1 win over Burton Albion a couple of weeks ago. United do not seem to have an adequate replacement for Coutts within their squad and this seems to be key reason behind their form taking a dip. 

The fact that the Blades have conceded quite a few cheap goals in their last few matches will not have gone down well with Wilder. In both the 5-4 defeat to Fulham and the 3-1 defeat to Millwall, the Blades made some poor defensive errors which ultimately saw them come away from the game with nothing to show for their efforts. They certainly cannot afford to make these sort of basic errors on Friday night if they are to get a result. 

If they are able to return to winning ways on Friday, they would move three points clear of their opponents and also close the gap on Cardiff City who occupy the second automatic promotion spot. The Bluebirds are not in action until Monday night when they take on Reading

As for Bristol City, they have also been somewhat of a surprise package this season, sitting just above the Blades in the league table on goal difference alone. Lee Johnson's side narrowly avoided relegation to League One last season but have enjoyed a lot of success so far in this campaign. 

Many felt that the Robins could struggle this season following the departure of loanee Tammy Abraham who returned to his parent club Chelsea before being loaned out to Premier League side Swansea City. However, that has not been the case as Bobby Reid has stepped up and found the back of the net 11 times already this season. 

The Robins are very dangerous going forward and this is something that the Blades are going to have to somehow deal with on Friday night if they are to get a result. Johnson is unlikely to set his team up to sit back and will instead want his team to get a foothold in the game from the off. 

Last time they met

The Blades last played Bristol City in League One in a 3-1 win in February 2015 at Ashton Gate. Matt Smith scored to put the Robins ahead in the first-half but a second-half double from Matt Done and a late strike from Jamie Murphy secured all three points for the away side in what was Bristol City's second home defeat of the season. 

Team news 

Wilder has no fresh injury concerns ahead of this match and will be boosted by the return to fitness of full-back George Baldock. Chris Basham has been filling in at right-back but it is not his ideal position. 

As for Bristol City, Johnson will be unable to name Callum O'Dowda, Eros Pisano, Jens Hegeler, Gary O'Neil, Famara Diedhiou and Milan Djuric in his starting line-up as they all remain sidelined with injuries. 

Jamie Paterson is also a doubt for the Robins but it is hoped that he will be fit enough to play a part at Bramall Lane on Friday night.