As this post goes live the Foxes are fourth in the Championship’s form table. By the time City play their next fixture that may have changed, but the underlying story will not: the seeds of a remarkable turnaround are being sown at Leicester City. The first consecutive wins of the season and only one defeat in the last six have placed the Foxes in the form they need to maintain to mount a realistic promotion push.
And so, as it often does, the Championship pits a team in form against another decidedly out of it and dares supporters, punters and pundits alike to accept the result as a foregone conclusion.
The conventional wisdom has a very sold case. The Blades have lost their last three league games and have scored just two goals in their last four matches. Gary Speed’s side have scored a grand total of 10 goals in the Championship this season. It’s difficult to back this attack against a defence which has conceded only five goals in the last six games and approaches this match on the back of consecutive clean sheets.
But a run of good form does not come easily in this year’s Championship. Last season 16 teams achieved three consecutive wins or more, so far this campaign only six have managed the same. Leicester will become the seventh side to accomplish it if they beat the Blades, but playing away from Bramall Lane is likely to be an advantage for the visitors. This season Sheffield United have won more points on the road than at home, and have conceded just six goals in seven away fixtures.
Given the scarcity of goalmouth action (only Crystal Palace have made fewer attempts on goal than the Blades) the first goal is likely to be decisive. In Sheffield United’s case this season it certainly has been. Speed’s side have yet to win when conceding first and are yet to lose when opening the scoring.
As a result one goal could be enough to make a match winner. If Darius Vassell gets one on his home debut it will be his first goal in English domestic football since April 2008. Wouldn’t that be a statement to make in front his new fans.