3 things to watch out for in Middlesbrough v Sheffield United on Sunday | OneFootball

3 things to watch out for in Middlesbrough v Sheffield United on Sunday

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Football League World

The ‘Chris Wilder Derby’ will take place on Sunday afternoon as Middlesbrough host Sheffield United in Championship action at the Riverside Stadium.

Wilder’s biggest managerial feat was winning two promotions with the Blades during his time at his boyhood club and taking them back to the Premier League in 2019, before he was sacked in March 20121 with United on the verge of relegation back to the second tier.

He’s since rocked up on Teesside with more promotion aspirations, but it’s been a slow start to the 2022-23 season, with a draw against West Brom and losses to QPR and League One outfit Barnsley in the Carabao Cup.

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Sheffield United meanwhile have gotten off the mark in the league with a victory last week over Millwall following an opening weekend loss against Watford – let’s look at three things to watch out for when Paul Heckingbottom takes his side to Boro.

Ryan Giles’ left foot

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One area that Boro needed to address this summer was their attacking threat down the left flank, with Marc Bola being a solid option but he didn’t deliver what Isaiah Jones was able to do on the opposite side.

Ryan Giles has fixed that though already, with his dangerous left-footed deliveries creating major chances in Middlesbrough’s opening two matches.

The Wolves loanee has already delivered 23 crosses into the opposition box, although only six of those have been accurate.

Emphasis has been put on adding new strikers into the mix though by Wilder, and now that Matthew Hoppe and Marcus Forss are fresh options in the box, maybe some of Giles’ teasing crosses will find a Boro man.

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Unlike last season, where Paul Heckingbottom tended to line up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, Sheffield United have started the season with two attacking midfielders supporting a central striker instead.

One of the duo is Sander Berge, who is thriving in a more advanced role in midfield and duly netted his first goal of the season in last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Millwall.

The Norway international netted five times last season, which was interrupted by injury early on, but he will be setting higher targets this season.

One skill in his game is his ability to drive forward with the ball – due to his 6 ft 4 in frame he can power past other midfielders and defenders when at the top of his game, and has completed seven out of an attempted 11 dribbles so far this season, as well as making six progressive runs against Millwall (stats via Wyscout).

United’s flair off the bench

Whilst Boro are in the process of overhauling their attacking unit, with Marcus Forss and Matthew Hoppe already arriving recently, Sheffield United are ready to unleash some attacking talents of their own.

Both Reda Khadra and James McAtee have arrived on loan from the Premier League and made their full debuts in the 1-0 Carabao Cup loss to West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night.

After the win over Millwall last Saturday, it’s likely that Heckingbottom will stick with Berge and Iliman Ndiaye behind Rhian Brewster, so he will be able to unleash both Khadra and McAtee off the bench.

One brings explosive pace in German forward Khadra, whilst McAtee has great technical ability on the ball and is able to provide quality from a number of different angles, so United may have the edge when it comes to changing the game in the second half.

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