The Saddlers entertain the Blades this weekend...
Saturday, 21st November 2015 (Kick-off 3.00pm)
Sky Bet League One
Walsall will be hoping to reclaim top spot after slipping to third without playing last weekend. The Saddlers, whose last league outing was the thrilling comeback win over Gillingham three weeks ago, have lost fewer matches than any other League One side (two). Opponents Sheffield United were the pre-season promotion favourites but currently lie eighth, two points adrift of the play-offs. The Blades - arguably the biggest club at this level – are without an away win since August (five league fixtures).
Walsall: 3rd – P16 W9 D5 L2 F28 A14 PTS32
Sheff Utd: 8th – P17 W7 D4 L6 F28 A24 PTS25
LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES: (Most recent match first)
Sheff Utd: DLLWD
LAST TIME OUT:
Saturday, 7th November – Walsall 2-0 Fleetwood – FA Cup First Round
George Evans scored his third goal in four matches as Walsall overcame Fleetwood to reach the FA Cup second round. The Manchester City loanee fired Walsall ahead on 20 minutes and Anthony Forde sealed victory in stoppage time.
Team:Etheridge (MacGillivray 46’), Demetriou, Downing, Preston, Henry, Morris, Evans, Chambers, Lalkovic (Forde 46’), Sawyers, Bradshaw (Cook 74’).
Subs not used: Taylor, Baxendale, Flanagan, Kinsella.
Saturday, 14th November – Sheff Utd 2-2 Southend – League One
Neil Collins marked his 200th Blades appearance with a goal as Sheffield United battled back from 2-0 down to draw. Quick-fire strikes from Ryan Leonard and Jack Payne put Southend in control, but Jose Baxter’s tap-in and Collins’ calm finish made it 2-2 at half-time. Billy Sharp and Chris Basham each struck the woodwork for the hosts after the break.
Team:Long, Freeman, Basham, Collins, Harris, Campbell-Ryce, Hammond, Coutts (J Wallace 84’), Adams, Baxter Sharp.
Subs not used: Howard, Done, Scougall, Sammon, McEveley, McGahey.
Walsall wins: 7
Sheff Utd wins: 12
Tuesday, 17th March 2015 – Walsall 1-1 Sheff Utd
Ashley Grimes scored just two minutes after coming on as a substitute to rescue Walsall a point. Jose Baxter’s sublime 25-yard strike gave Nigel Clough’s Blades an eighth-minute lead but Grimes equalised with a superb header 19 minutes from time.
SHEFF UTD MANAGER:
Nigel Adkins – The 50-year-old succeeded Nigel Clough as Blades boss in June 2015. A former physio, Adkins has won promotion from League One three times – twice with Scunthorpe (2007 and 2009) and once with Southampton (2011). The ex-Wigan and Tranmere goalkeeper, who guided Saints to the Premier League in 2012, has also managed Reading and Bangor City.
SHEFF UTD STAR MAN:
Billy Sharp – Now into his third spell at Bramall Lane, the 29-year-old is United’s top scorer this season with seven goals in 19 matches in all competitions. A seasoned striker, Sharp worked with Blades boss Nigel Adkins at Scunthorpe and Southampton – winning promotion with both clubs. The Sheffield-born frontman has plundered 158 goals in 401 career appearances and has twice been named in the League One PFA Team of the Year.
VIEW FROM THE SHEFF UTD CAMP:
Nigel Adkins (on playing Walsall) – "Walsall are a very good side and a team on the up. Dean Smith has been there a number of seasons now in time they have built a very competitive squad. Walsall have the ability to play some excellent football, they get the ball down and play out quickly from the back and are confident in possession. Tom Bradshaw is the player that gets the headlines, but collectively they are strong and have a lot of stability."
Walsall - Manager Dean Smith confirmed that goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, winger Milan Lalkovic and defender James O'Connor are fit and available. Midfielders, Sam Mantom (ankle) and Isaiah Osbourne (knee), are out.
Sheff Utd: James Wallace is expected to be in contention. George Long is likely to continue in goal, while Matt Done and Kieran Wallace are pushing for a recall. Florent Cuvelier is out.
Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).
STAT OF THE DAY:
We are unbeaten in our last six matches against Sheffield United, winning three and drawing three.
TOMORROW’S LEAGUE ONE FIXTURES: (3.00pm unless stated)
Bury vs. Burton
Coventry vs. Gillingham
Crewe vs. Peterborough
Doncaster vs. Rochdale
Fleetwood vs. Swindon
Millwall vs. Colchester
Oldham vs. Barnsley
Port Vale vs. Chesterfield
Scunthorpe vs. Bradford
Wigan vs. Shrewsbury