Sheffield United vs Leeds United Preview: Heckingbottom looking to get Leeds back in play-off race

Sheffield United take on Yorkshire rivals Leeds United at Bramall Lane this Saturday lunch-time in the SKY Bet Championship.

Sheffield United vs Leeds United Preview: Heckingbottom looking to get Leeds back in play-off race
Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United make the short trip across Yorkshire this weekend to face Sheffield United in new head coach Paul Heckingbottom's first game.

Two teams going in the wrong direction

If you go back two months, both Sheffield United and Leeds were both comfortably in the top six of the Sky Bet Championship and probably thinking about a push towards automatic promotion in the second half of the season.

Unfortunately for both these great Yorkshire clubs, their respective form has taken a downward spiral, which has cost Thomas Christiansen his job at Leeds.

From Chris Wilder's side's point of view they've picked up just 10 points from their league games since mid-November and currently sit eighth in the league table falling five points off the playoff positions.

Even though the Blades weren't fancied by most at the start of the season after promotion last year, they'll be really disappointed that their form has dropped off so much, but a game like this might get them going again.

Embed from Getty Images

Can Heckingbottom stop the slide?

So once again in the 21st century, Leeds United have a new man in charge of the first team after Paul Heckingbottom joined just three days after agreeing to a new contract at Barnsley. Heckingbottom is Leeds 11th manager this decade and takes over a team sitting 10th in the league table and seven points outside the playoffs.

Leeds last win was on boxing day away to bottom of the table Burton Albion and was the last game in a seven-match unbeaten run, but since then they've picked up just two points from six league games, gone out of the FA Cup to League Two's Newport County and launched a new badge design only to revoke it on the same day after negative fan feedback. 

Similarly to Sheffield United though, this type of high stakes game and a new manager in charge may well inspire Leeds for a good end to the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Team news

Goalkeeper Simon Moore is suspended for the Blades after being sent off at Wolves last week, so either Jamal Blackman will return after a long injury layoff or Jake Eastwood will make his full league debut.

Defenders Liam Cooper and Gaetano Beradi are out suspended for Leeds while midfielders Eunan O'Kane and Kalvin Phillips will return from bans. 

Pontus Jansson should be fit for Heckingbottom's first game despite being stretchered off in the defeat to Cardiff City last week.

Stats

Leeds haven't won at Bramall Lane since April 1992 losing five of seven trips since then.

The Blades are unbeaten in their last 17 league Yorkshire derbies, winning 11 of those games.

Billy Sharp has scored five league goals in his last five starts against Leeds, including in the reverse fixture this season.