Sheffield United Preview
by, 03-04-2011 at 11:39 PM (656 Views)
Monday 4th April 2011
Npower Football League Championship
Loftus Road Stadium
Referee: K Stroud
Queens Park Rangers (1st) V Sheffield United (22nd)
By The Godfather
This year, I've really hated the international breaks. It's not because I'm not interested in the England team - I was delighted with the win against Wales. But I've enjoyed watching QPR so much this season that two weeks without Championship football seemed painful. Thank goodness that we finally have a Loftus Road fixture to look forward to - in front of the Sky cameras.
On Monday night, Queens Park Rangers have an excellent opportunity to not only go nine points clear of Norwich, but also to extend their lead over Swansea and Cardiff to thirteen points. This would bring promotion to the Premiership within touching distance. Warnock's former club, Sheffield United, have really struggled this season and, despite their recent win over local rivals, Leeds United, lie in 22nd position. The Rs should really take all three points here.
Manager: Micky Adams
It really has been a terrible campaign for Sheffield United. Manager, Kevin Blackwell, was sacked following QPR's comfortable 3-0 victory at Bramall Lane in August. Although I can't stand Blackwell's style of play, I do believe that he is effective at Championship level and I doubt that Sheffield United would be in this position had the Board stuck by him.
Blackwell was replaced by Gary Speed, a slightly surprising appointment given that he had no managerial experience. Results under Speed were unremarkable to say the very least and I must confess that I was very surprised to see him land the Wales job.
Micky Adams was appointed as the new manager in January. Born and raised in Sheffield, Adams was a popular choice amongst the supporters. However, his spell has so far been disastrous. According to the Sheffield United message boards, the players have often looked uninterested in proceedings and are simply not showing any passion for the shirt. It took Adams over three months to register his first win, a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest.
To the manager's credit, Sheffield United have improved a little recently and beat Leeds United in a fiercely-fought Yorkshire derby. However, they are still seven points behind Crystal Palace. In truth, they are going to have to try and win this match if they are to pose a serious threat to the Eagles.
Men to watch
Sheffield United's top scorer this season is Ched Evans, a name that will be very familiar to readers of this message board. Two seasons ago, Evans was repeatedly linked to QPR by several 'in the know' posters, but he moved to the Blades instead. The Welsh international striker has notched nine goals this campaign and will be confident about Monday night's encounter.
Darius Henderson could return to Sheffield United's starting line-up after serving a suspension. Henderson is a proven goalscorer at Championship level, as he demonstrated during his three-year spell with Watford. Since signing for Sheffield United in 2008, Henderson has netted 18 times in 65 appearances. He could cause some problems for the QPR defence on Monday night.
Richard Cresswell could also be involved. Although Cresswell has apparently been very poor this season, he always seems to score against Queens Park Rangers. The 33 year-old has enjoyed a relatively successful career, his most successful period being at Preston North End, where he scored 46 times in 176 starts.
In central midfield, expect to see Nick Montgomery, who has played in a Sheffield United shirt for his entire career. The 29 year-old has made over 300 appearances for the Blades and is known for his physical and aggressive approach. It will be interesting to see how the defensive midfielder copes against Shaun Derry, who has been magnificent this season for QPR.
At the back, Nyron Nosworthy is likely to start. The central defender is currently on loan at Bramall Lane from Sunderland, but has not impressed the United faithful. The 30 year-old started his career with Gillingham, making over 150 appearances in a seven-year spell. His impressive performances attracted the interest of the Black Cats, who purchased him in 2005. Over the last couple of years, he has been unable to hold down a regular place in Steve Bruce's side and consequently has been sent out on loan.
August 2010 - Just a few days before this match, QPR had been humiliated by Port Vale in the Carling Cup. Therefore, many Super Hoops fans were surprised that the team won this match so comfortably. Hogan Ephraim broke the deadlock, finishing neatly from close range. Jamie Mackie doubled the advantage, before Taarabt sealed the victory from the penalty spot in only the 23rd minute. Kevin Blackwell was sacked after the match.
Sheffield United 0-3 Queens Park Rangers
QPR Team News
Adel Taarabt, the Football League Player of the Year, missed the Doncaster victory due to personal reasons. Unfortunately for Sheffield United, he is likely to return to the starting line-up. Patrick Agyemang made a surprise return to the squad against Doncaster, being named on the substitutes' bench. Jamie Mackie, Peter Ramage and Lee Cook remain the long-term absentees.
Keith Stroud will referee Queens Park Rangers for the third time this season (he previously took charge of the Middlesbrough (H) and Ipswich (A) games). Sian Massey, the lineswoman who was at the centre of the Sky sexism scandal, will also be officiating.
Queens Park Rangers should win this match quite comfortably. Nevertheless I am a little nervous. Sheffield United will be desperate to avoid defeat and the players might be feeling confident after their result against Leeds. In addition, after the international break, will the Rs be able to continue the momentum from the Doncaster victory? I do think that Warnock's men will win - but the game could well be closer than the teams' league positions suggest.
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Sheffield United