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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Sky Blues head to the Steel City

A first trip in four-and-a-half years to Bramall Lane...

19 November 2021

City travel to South Yorkshire to face Sheffield United in the Sky Bet Championship this Saturday. Here’s everything you need to know about our opponents.

Fact-file:

Name: Sheffield United Football Club
Founded: 1889
Stadium: Bramall Lane (first opened 1855)
Capacity: 32,050
Nickname: The Blades
Address: Bramall Lane, Highfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S2 4SU
Pitch Size: 110.5 x 74.4 yards

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The Opposition

Four-time FA Cup winners Sheffield United are currently 17th in the Sky Bet Championship after they went into the international break on the back of a 3-1 defeat at Ewood Park to Blackburn Rovers.

After a difficult second season back in the Premier League last term, where the Blades failed to win any of their opening 17 matches, the Blades returned to the Championship after ending the campaign from last place.

The South Yorkshire side started their first season since 2015/16 without Chris Wilder in charge in August and after a tough start for new boss Slavisa Jokanovic they have recorded wins in the league against Peterborough United, Hull City, Derby County, Stoke City and Barnsley as well as guiding his side to the Third Round of the Carabao Cup where they exited the competition on penalties to top flight Southampton.

This summer saw the likes of Phil Jagielka, John Lundstram, Aaron Ramsdale, Jack Rodwell and of course Simon Moore leave the Lane. Meanwhile the likes of Adlene Guedioura, being reunited with Jokanovic after their time at Watford, have arrived as well as Sweden international goalkeeper Robin Olsen joining from Roma, Aston Villa’s Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane and Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White the pick of the loan arrivals.

The evergreen club captain Billy Sharp leads the goalscoring charts with five goals as well as six assists for the Blades so far in all competitions, with Gibbs-White scoring his fourth of the season in the recent draw at Nottingham Forest just ahead of Ben Osborn and Lys Mousset who have four strikes a piece.

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Manager

Former Yugoslavia international Slavisa Jokanovic enjoyed a near two decade long playing career, beginning his career at hometown club Novi Sad in 1985 and spending seven years in La Liga and taking in a two year spell at Chelsea, among other clubs before retiring in 2004.

He began his managerial career in 2007 with former club Partizan, winning the league and cup double in both of his two seasons in charge.

He then moved to Muangthong United of Thailand and won the Thai Premier League unbeaten in his only season in charge before brief spells at Levski Sofia of Bulgaria and a return to Spain with Hercules.

He returned to UK shores in 2014 when he was appointed Watford manager and led them to second place and subsequent promotion from the Championship after winning 21 of his 36 games in charge before departing that summer.

He then took over at Maccabi Tel Aviv and whilst there he led the Israeli club into the group stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2004-05 and saw him return to Stamford Bridge after the two sides were paired together in a group along with Porto and Dynamo Kiev.

Just after Christmas 2015 he departed for Fulham and after keeping the Cottagers in the division he led them to successive play off campaigns, beating Aston Villa at Wembley at the second attempt thanks to Tom Cairney’s goal.

The West London side had a tough start to life in the Premier League and after only one win, against Burnley, and draws with Brighton and Hove Albion and Watford, Jokanovic was dismissed after the twelfth match of the season.

His next role was at Qatar club Al-Gharafa and was nominated for Manager of the Season in his first campaign but he departed earlier this year for South Yorkshire.

After failing to win in his first five matches he won his first Championship match 6-2 in September over promoted Peterborough and has gone on to achieve four subsequent victories in the league.

During his time at Bramall Lane, Jokanovic has managed 20 matches recording 7 wins, 5 draws and 8 defeats.

 

Last Six Games

Lost – Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Sheffield United (Sky Bet Championship)
Drew – Nottingham Forest 2–1 Sheffield United (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Sheffield United 0-1 Blackpool (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Barnsley 2-3 Sheffield United (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Sheffield United 1-2 Millwall (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Sheffield United 2-1 Stoke City (Sky Bet Championship)

 

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Last Time We Met

The two sides last met in April 2017, with Sheffield United winning 2-0 at Bramall Lane in Sky Bet League One.

The Sky Blues went close when Ben Stevenson set up Ruben Lameiras however Moore saved his shot.

Former Sky Blues duo John Fleck and Leon Clarke then combined for the opener with the former’s 18th assist of the season being converted by Clarke after he whipped a ball across the box.

The provider then turned goalscorer when he fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to keep the South Yorkshireman top of the league.

Sky Blues XI: Lee Burge (GK), Jordan Willis (C) (Ben Stevenson 45'), Nathan Clarke, Jordan Turnbull, Chris Stokes, Gael Bigirimana, Kevin Foley, Ryan Haynes (George Thomas 80'), Jodi Jones, Ruben Lameiras, Marcus Tudgay. 

Unused Subs: Reice Charles-Cook (GK), Dion Kelly-Evans, Farrend Rawson, Stuart Beavon, Michael Folivi.

 

Head-to-Head Record

Sky Blues Wins – 22
Draws – 18
Sheffield United Wins – 23

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Club Connections

John Fleck

Glasgow born midfielder John Fleck spent four years with City after joining in the summer 2012 and went on to feature 182 times in Sky Blue before departing for South Yorkshire where he will hope to make his 225th appearance for Sheffield United against his former club at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Coming through the Rangers academy, his first involvement with the first team came in 2007 pre season, making his competitive debut in the Scottish Cup in January 2008 before becoming the youngest ever player to feature in a senior British cup final when the Gers beat Queen of the South 3-2 at Hampden Park.

After picking up two Scottish Premier League winners medals in successive seasons after featuring 15 times in 2009/10 then playing 13 league games the following season he then almost joined Sheffield United in September 2011 only for the move to fall through and later joined Blackpool on loan for the second half of the 2011/12 season.

After Rangers were liquidated in the June 2012, Fleck chose to leave the club and joined the Sky Blues, scoring in third match from the spot in defeat at Shrewsbury then finding the net in a 3-1 home victory over Crawley Town that November.

He featured in four EFL Trophy games, including in a penalty shoot out win against the Blades, as City reached the Area Final against Crewe Alexandra, he played in the 2-0 win at Gresty Road as we bowed out of the competition.

He ended the season on three goals with a final day strike in a draw at Notts County in his 42nd appearance of the season but only found the net once the next season, against Swindon, in a season where he was one shy of 50 games.

He started the match against Gillingham in September 2014 as the Sky Blues returned to the city and later that month he reached his century of appearances at Scunthorpe.

Fleck captained the side for the first time in February 2015 in a 2-0 win at Fleetwood Town but his final season with City would prove his most productive in terms of goals and also see the side achieve their highest league finish during his time in Sky Blue.

Four strikes, all at home, against Crewe, Doncaster Rovers, Bury and Millwall helped City achieve an eighth place finish under Tony Mowbray before the midfielder headed north on a free transfer.

Fleck made his debut for the Blades at Bolton in August 2016 and scored four goals, including one in a win over Coventry in April 2017, as Chris Wilder’s side won the League One title.

He then only missed five games as they re-established themselves in the second tier before missing one game as Sheffield United earned promotion back to the Premier League in 2019.

That October he made his Scotland debut away to Russia after earning a call up following a strong start to his first season of English top flight and he scored five goals as the Blades surpassed all expectations to finish 9th in the league.

A difficult second season saw the Bramall Lane side relegated with Fleck appearing 33 times however he still earned a place in Scotland’s squad for last summer’s European Championships but was unable to add to his five caps during the tournament.

In their first season back in the Championship Fleck has only missed one league so far for the Blades, which was back in August, as he looks to earn a third promotion with the South Yorkshire side.

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Match Officials

Michael Salisbury will be the man in the middle for the clash at Bramall Lane.

This fixture will be the second Sky Blues' match Salisbury has officated this season after overseeing the 1-0 win over Cardiff City at the Coventry Building Society Arena in September.

So far this season, Salisbury has awarded 20 yellow cards and 5 red cards across the 7 fixtures in the Sky Bet Championship and Carabao Cup he has taken charge of.

Salisbury will be assisted by Wade Smith and Nick Greenhalgh whilst Peter Wright will act as the fourth official.


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