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Club News


13 January 2017

The Saddlers have beaten United twice already this season...

Jon Whitney is hoping we can make it a hat-trick of wins against Sheffield United when the Blades visit the Banks’s tomorrow. 

Chris Wilder’s men sit top of League One having won six successive league matches and are the bookies' favourites for the title.

United have lost only once in 22 league fixtures – although that defeat came against the Saddlers at Bramall Lane back in November, courtesy of Amadou Bakayoko’s first-half strike. 

We also ran out 2-1 away winners in a Checkatrade Trophy tie against United last October, with Scott Laird – who rejoined the club on loan yesterday – and Bakayoko scoring our goals. 

And Whitney has challenged his side to make it three wins from three when the teams meet again this weekend. 

“It’s a great one for the fans,” said Whitney. “We’ve beaten them twice and we’ll be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins against them. 

“They have won six straight games in League One but we want to stop that run, and we have that psychological advantage having beaten them twice already. 

“They’re deservedly top of the league in my opinion as they’re one of the best teams we’ve played, but I do believe we have the players to cause them problems.” 

The Saddlers defended heroically in the league win at Bramall Lane, with James O’Connor imperious at the back and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge saving a late Billy Sharp penalty. 

But Whitney insists, that with home advantage, his team will be more offensive this time around.

“We won’t be just shutting up shop trying to stop them,” he said. “We’ll look to be nice and solid, but as the home team, we have to be on the front foot and take the game to them as well.

“We’ll respect them because they’ve got some good players and real strength in depth. Up front they’ve got Sharp and Lavery, Clarke can come on off the bench, Duffy and Coutts are good players, and Fleck can do it at a higher level. 

“It’ll be a really tough game against a good team, but it’ll be a great occasion for us as a group to show people what we can do.” 

Bakayoko has scored the winning goal against the Blades twice already this season – and Whitney believes the striker is now becoming more consistent with his performances. 

“It’d be nice for him to score again against them,” Whitney commented. “If he’s on the pitch, it will be a tough game for him, but they won’t fancy playing against Ama either. 

“Against Rochdale he occupied the centre halves, used his size and stretched the line. He’s a great physical specimen and has great potential. I think when he realises it, that’s when we’ve got a player. 

"But he’s getting more consistent now with his performances which is pleasing.”

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