Sheffield United headed into the season among the favourites for promotion at 15/8, with Chris Wilder having made a slew of savvy buys while clearing out some of the Blades’ deadwood.
And after an early-season wobble, they’ve found form in the past 10 days, beating a solid Oxford United side and inflicting Gillingham’s only league defeat at Priestfield this season. So, now is the time to back the Blades at 12/5 for promotion. Here’s why.
Their fighting spirit is second to none
Oxford United had already knocked Birmingham City out of the League Cup when they travelled to Bramall Lane, meaning things didn’t look good for the then-winless Blades. But a combination of defensive organisation and intelligent attacking play turned the game on its head, thanks to Billy Sharp and James Wilson’s goals.
And their spirited resolve was even more evident during last weekend’s victory at Gillingham, as the Blades dominated the match after going behind, notching up more shots on and off target, corners and possession, with Billy Sharp’s penalty eventually giving the visitors another comeback win.
Cut out those occasional defensive lapses which have seen them fall behind, and there’s no reason the Bramall Lane outfit can’t go on an impressive winning run.
They have a proven goalscorer
It’s no coincidence that League One’s top scorers in the last two seasons – Preston’s Joe Garner and Wigan’s Will Grigg – were both involved in promotion-winning sides.
League One’s games this season have frequently been settled by a single strike, with five of last weekend’s seven wins coming by the narrowest of margins – and the trio of goals scored by Billy Sharp so far have given the Blades five of their seven points so far this season.
Having netted a whopping 21 times in the third-tier last time out, the experienced striker’s game-reading and eye for goal look sharper than ever, while the service he’s had from midfield and via full-backs Danny Lafferty and Kieron Freeman has given him more than enough opportunities to find the net.
The toughest trips are out of the way
The Blades have already visited title favourites Millwall, highly-rated Gillingham and an impressive Bolton Wanderers side, meaning that they’re certain to start picking up points on the road, with three of the division’s toughest fixtures now in their rear-view mirror.
In the next handful, they’re off to a struggling Shrewsbury side who have suffered seven defeats in 10 at New Meadow, as well as Northampton, who boast a solitary league win this season.
A good run in those games could see those odds of promotion quickly tumble – leaving a healthy cash-out for those keen to play it safe, or putting Wilder’s men in the driving seat to make that 12/5 look like easy money.
Sheffield United travel to AFC Wimbledon this weekend, with 7/5 for the visitors to enjoy a third league victory on the trot.
And for those backing them to come from behind and win again, that’s priced up at a tasty 12/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing