For the first time since the opening day of the 2022-23 championship season, Sheffield United found themselves on the wrong side of a result as they were beaten 1-0 by Queens Park Rangers at Bramall Lane.
The Blades have been quite imperious in recent weeks as they remained top of the second tier, but there were signs things could start to go wrong when Birmingham City came from behind last weekend to secure a 1-1 draw. -1 in South Yorkshire.
And then things took a turn for the worse on Tuesday when a second-half goal from Chris Willock gave Michael Beale’s side all three points against United, in a result that saw Norwich City level top of the table with them.
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Paul Heckingbottom also had to deal with injuries to George Baldock and Sander Berge, and that’s not helping ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stoke City.
Potters haven’t exactly been thriving under new boss Alex Neil, having won just six points from a possible 18 since his arrival from Sunderland, but he’ll be buoyed up after a late draw at Burnley to leave Turf Moor on Wednesday. with a 1-1 draw.
And it is bound to be another spoils split for the Staffordshire side in the eyes of EFL pundit David Prutton, who has predicted in his Sky Sports column that they will contest a 1-1 draw with the Blades.
“Stoke and Alex Neil badly needed that point at Burnley in midweek after such a dismal performance against Watford on Sunday.” Pruton wrote.
“It doesn’t take long for the pressure to build in this league and this is another very, very tough game.
“Sheffield United will be keen to bounce back after their loss against QPR.
“Their lead at the top has closed a little bit, and I think they can lose more points in this one.”
Alex Neil hasn’t had the best start to his life at Stoke, and things don’t exactly get any easier with Paul Heckingbottom and his team visiting the Bet365 Stadium.
There have been a few draws in their first six games, which with the firepower at their disposal won’t seem good enough, but interestingly it could be a good opportunity to take advantage of Sheffield United’s struggles.
United will be without the aforementioned Baldock and Berge, severely weakening them, although Anel Ahmedhodzic could return to reinforce the back three.
Every game in the Championship is difficult and there are no bankers, and with Sheffield United’s injuries things balance out a bit.